Tag Archives: mtg

Teneb, the Harvester EDH: Mtg Commander

The rush of the holidays are behind us.  Between bouts of shopping and decorating I got a chance to visit some family and friends.  While on my pilgrimage to Texas I caught up with my best friend, Jim.  After some preliminary catching up we decided to play some Commander.  I was fresh off of building my Kangee, Aerie Keeper deck (here) and wanted to deliver some flying beatdown.  Jim had recently put together a Teneb, the Harvester list that wanted to steal games with a big Genesis Wave.  Jim’s build was pretty awesome and I had a blast watching some cool interactions.  When it was time to go I asked Jim to e-mail me the list so I could sleeve it up and play it myself.  I have seen Genesis Wave in action in Commander many times since it came out and it can be backbreaking (just ask Power 9 Pro’s Joe about his Azusa, Lost but Seeking deck).

Since the deck wants to abuse Genesis Wave it needs to have a high concentration of permanents.  Jim runs a huge number of creatures backed up with a few artifacts, enchantments and Planeswalkers.  The list only has five non-permanents in it.

Seems a little sparse but it will work for now. I am sure Jim does not own Vampiric Tutor or it would be in there.

As for artifacts and enchantments, the selection is a bit bigger

I have always been a fan of Wild Pair in EDH.  Lurking Predators can be especially awesome in multi-player.  I thin Jim needs to be running Senseis Divining Top to take advantage of the Predators.

If you have ever been sitting opposite Sorin Markov in Commander you know that the game is pretty much over as soon as he hits the table. Liliana’s -2 ability helps look for Genesis Wave or can set up a Lurking Predator hit.

The land is pretty standard. I feel that almost every Commander deck should be running Crucible of Worlds if just for a way not to be totally blown out by Armageddon effects.

The creature package is where this deck really shines.  It is full of amazing dudes with amazing powers.  There are a lot of “enters the battlefield” effects that combo nicely with Genesis Wave.

Acidic Slime is great in EDH since there will be plenty of nice targets.  Drana is a machine-gun, destroying low toughness Generals with ease every turn and at instant speed.  Iona… well that is obvious.  Drop a Gleancrawler after you attacked with Novablast Wurm to lessen the sting.  For those of you who have not had the chance to see how much devastation Terastodon can cause, you need to trust me.  World Queller is a vastly underrated card and fits nicely with all of the recursion effects in the deck.  Thicket Elemental can be absolutely broken.

This is a great start for an awesome deck that plays with top tier creatures that can be easily cheated into play. With a few minor tweaks I am sure that this deck can be very competitive. Give me some Feedback and let me know what you think should go in or come out and I will keep the list updated.  I want to revisit this General in the future so keep the comments comming.

EDH General: Vhati il-Dal / EDH Decklist

Work has held me hostage the past few months but I could no longer resist the pull of Magic.  I needed to find something that would get my non-work self pumped again.  I decided to dig through my Legendary binder (I collected Legends before I ever heard of EDH, yay for me) to see what would jump out at me.  I was almost to the end of the binder when I saw my old pal, Vhati il-Dal.  Vhati is a political General that can really shine in multi-player.

I was excited to run green/black and started pulling out cards that interested me.  I dug deep into my card collection trying to come up with combos and never seen before interactions.  What I ended up with was a giant stack of cards and only 99 (!) open slots.  *sigh* 

stack-baloon It seemed like an impossible task; how do I choose between Strip Mine and Wasteland?  How can I fit all of the most broken cards ever printed in Black/Green in to one little 100 card deck?  I can debate card choices with myself all day long.  I feel it is much easier just to stuff the cards in and replace what doesn’t work later (for EDH). 

Since I had access to green I felt that 36 land slots would be perfect due to land search effects.

Lands (36)

The next step was thinning down the creatures I had marked for the deck.  With so many options in both black and green, not to mention multi-colored, the choices were tough.  After some quick assessing, I ended up with this:

Creatures (27)

Some strange choices and some no-brainers.   For me, part of the fun with EDH is using cards that rarely see play.  My favorite choice here is Cuombajj Witches, not only for the “what?” factor, but also because of the synergy with Vhati.  Krovikan Horror serves the same purpose, reusable creature kill.  I like the devour creatures in the deck, since I have put many recursion effects in; Mycoloth is way too good combined with Skullclamp.  Gleancrawler, Solemn Simulacrum and Woodfall Primus all combo nicely with devour as well.  Maybe I should up the count of devour creatures, Marrow Chomper perhaps?  Maybe not.  The critters that don’t seem to fit too well are Heartwood Storyteller, Birds of Paradise and Ohran Viper.

It was time for some back up.  Green/black has a great selection of enchantments for EDH.  I feel that every deck running green should run Sylvan Library.  Being able to stack your draws is really important in a Highlander format.

Enchantments/Planeswalkers (10)

Wild Pair is one of my all time favorite enchantments.  Some thought needs to go into your deck construction to thoroughly abuse its power.  Let’s check the synergy with Wild Pair so far; seven creatures have a combined power/toughness of four, four have a combined eight, and three have a combined twelve.  I like the idea of playing Monger and bringing Primus along for the ride. 

Now I needed the utility spells; removal, tutors, card drawing, etc.

Card Drawing/Tutors (11)

EDH is all about tutor effects.  The easier it is to find your answer/threat the better.  It is important to have some degree of deck manipulation.  Crystal Ball is perfect for EDH.  The format tends to be slower (now that Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary has been banned again) allowing incremental development a chance to pay off.  I play the Journeyer’s Kite in my other EDH deck and really like it.

In EDH you need to be able to answer multiple and various things.  Having a broad removal package is very important.

Removal (10)

Rancid Earth has great synergy with our General once we have threshold.  Morbid Bloom is definitely the odd man out, I added it to give myself more devour targets.  I know Maelstrom Pulse seems like a poor choice in EDH, but it is almost a Vindicate and it wrecks tokens.

Extra Bits(5)

The extra stuff can all be dumped, except for Restock.  The Sword is in because its new. Imp’s Mischief, as the name suggests, can create plenty of ways to mess with the other players, fitting nicely with the political nature of Vhati il-Dal.  Berserk can be a great finisher.

As I look over this list I can see a bunch of holes and cross purpose selections.  Why don’t I have Crucible of Worlds in here?  Why Worm Harvest without Life from the Loam?  Keep in mind this is a casual, multi-player deck.  That being said, I would love any Feedback the readers could give.  Until next time.

DCI Banned & Restricted List Announcement

The June 18, 2010 DCI Banned & Restricted List Announcement is a whopper! Extended as we know it is changing dramatically, and Legacy will see some upheaval as well.

Effective July 1, Extended will go from having seven years worth of Magic sets to having four years worth. A whopping eleven (11) sets are rotating out on that date (Ninth Edition, Mirrodin, Darksteel, Fifth Dawn, Champions of Kamigawa, Betrayers of Kamigawa, Saviors of Kamigawa, Ravnica: City of Guilds, Guildpact, Dissension, and Coldsnap.) From that point forward, starting with the release of Scars of Mirrodin, each fall set will cause the oldest block to rotate out. Thus, when Scars releases, Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, Future Sight, and Tenth Edition will rotate out. Goodbye, Tarmogoyf, it was nice knowing ya!

Furthermore, Sword of the Meek and Hypergenesis are both banned in Extended, while the previous four banned cards will have rotated out anyway.

Clearly this decision is intended to shake things up and will hopefully do just that, breathing life into a format that has been on DCI life support for a few seasons now.

Moving over to Legacy, it appears that Steven Menendian will have his way with a couple of cards, with Grim Monolith and Illusionary Mask both being taken off the banned list.

However, Mystical Tutor has been banned, which should neuter one of the format’s preeminent combo decks, Ad Nauseam Tendrils (ANT). Losing those four slots universally held by the tutor will be a hard obstacle to overcome, and while the deck will likely still survive in some incarnation, we can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that the dreaded turn 1 kill will probably happen a lot less often in the format, with only the somewhat-passé LED-based dredge decks now being capable.

This should prove to be among the more influential Banned / Restricted announcements in recent times, and here’s hoping it has the desired effect of making Extended more interesting.

EDH Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary: Post Eldrazi Update

Tonight, I plan to hit up the local Saturday night EDH tournament here in Albuquerque, held up at Active Imagination (known colloquially as “AI”). I just finished updating my deck, as it’s been approximately one year since last I wrote about my pet EDH spike deck. Below is a quick primer on the EDH deck I’m most familiar with. I’ll show you my decklist and talk about a couple new cards I intend to try, and then hopefully I will update the post with the glorious details of my victory at AI.

Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary is among the most hated and feared tier 1 EDH generals. He’s constantly tip-toeing along the line of the banned list, blowing raspberries to Braids, Cabal Minion, the only banned EDH general at the time of this writing. There seem to be two camps of Rofellos players, generally speaking, or two ways to abuse Rofellos’ unique mana production capability. One camp focuses on an explosion of tokens, while the other focuses on fatties. Both camps have access to the same few combo pieces, and that combo aspect of Rofellos seems to be ubiquitous. I choose to go the fatty route, and since I’m typically playing 1v1, I also focus a lot on the combo pieces and a suite of land destruction control spells.

Rofellos costs 2 mana and taps for green mana equal to the number of forests you control. This means that your games end up highly consistent and scripted. You will normally drop Rofellos on the second turn, and on turn 3, you’ll play some degenerate 6-mana spell, followed by an 8-mana turn 4. With a mox, this becomes 5-mana turn 2s and 7-mana turn 3s.

The beauty of a general that costs so little is that the general itself becomes central to your early game. If your opponent stumbles at all, and lacks an early spot removal spell, you will have access to the above-mentioned epic mana ramping. But often, they will kill Rofellos once or twice before he ever gives you any mana. This is usually nothing to worry about though, because you can play Rofellos a second and third time before many generals even make their first appearance. So don’t stress when you slow roll your opponent by playing your general “naked,” to draw out their removal spells. Trust me, Rofellos is a “must answer” threat. When you play a general with converted mana cost of around three or less, it’s as if you’re playing the game with extra cards: every time you drop your genera, it’s as if you drew a card that was always that general.

Now, being monogreen means we don’t have the world’s deepest card drawing, so there are some concessions to that in this list. However, green does have access to top notch LD and land searching spells, which come in handy when your plan is to ramp as many forests onto the battlefield as possible. In addition, green has some gnarly and diverse creature tutoring which is used to find the right threat or answer for the current game state, or to simply further abuse Rofellos’ ability.

Let’s look at the list now. 100 cards is a lot to get through, so I’ll present the deck in sections with commentary after each portion.

General
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary

Creatures (20)

A creature I flirt with from time to time is Elvish Harbinger, as it finds both wood elves and quirion ranger. But for now, she’s on the bench. Every one of these creatures serves a specific purpose, and there’s scant room among them for substitutions. The aforementioned Q. Ranger along with wirewood symbiote are here to untap rofellos. I’ve toyed with scryb ranger and seeker of skybreak as well, but the best of the best is symbiote. Wirewood symbiote is quite often the first thing I tutor for in this deck, as once you reach 3-4 forests with the insect and rofellos playing together, you’re off to the races. A very fun interaction is quirion ranger and wood elves, grabbing new forests as you untap rofellos. The hair that breaks this camel’s back, though, is the fact that once per turn, symbiote can save rofellos himself from a spot removal spell. With symbiote on board, rofellos is somewhat safe.

Chameleon Colossus is actually on the weaker side here, and is the first creature I might consider replacing. However, I have a dearth of 4-drops, and in a deck that can easily be producing 8 mana on turn 4, Colossus is a 16/16.

Masticore is part of a two-card combo with Kamahl, Fist of Krosa. These two make an excellent Tooth and Nail pairing as well in multi-player games, especially if you’ve ramped well and have a few mana left after the sorcery resolves. With these two on the board, you can quickly machine-gun all the opponents’ lands into oblivion, leaving very frustrated, but impotent mages to watch helplessly as you execute one of your win conditions. Both cards are ridiculous on their own with tons of mana at your disposal too, making them natural fits with Rofellos.

Silklash Spider is another marginal creature, but any chrome mox or mox diamond draw will likely have turn 2 5-drops, so it’s good to have a few floating around, or within easy tutor reach. There are few cards better designed to deal with Green’s traditional weakness against fliers, so silklash is in. Arashi, the Sky Asunder has made the list in the past, but was cut for Acidic Slime, since my deck is LD-heavy and the slime helps me reach that critical mass of LD effects.

Genesis is almost a must-play for any green deck, and plays very well with Survival of the Fittest, which we’ll see below.

Silvos, Rogue Elemental is simply a big fat monster, and marks the beginning of the pure fat category… remember, our 6-drops are coming down on turn 3 a lot of the time. Kamahl and Duplicant round out the sixes. Kamahl is a win condition in his own right, and ‘Dupe is tutorable spot removal for monogreen.

On 7 we have Regal Force and Panglacial Wurm. Force is incredible card draw for a color with few such options, and the wurm represents its own unique play. This deck has approximately one million ways to search the library, so always keep the wurm in mind… it’s an “every game” occurrence to see the wurm played from the library at some point. Again, green needs to get card advantage every way it can, and this is one more way to abuse having silly amounts of mana coming out your ass.

Our four 8-drops are Woodfall Primus, Patron of the Orochi, Terastodon, and Sundering Titan. Patron gives us a big fatty, plus additional mana ramping. The other three all have the ability to decimate an opponent’s manabase, with Primus and Terastodon being extra flexible, and able to deal with a variety of problem permanents. Titan is pure hell on the many multi-colored EDH decks, and relatively benign to our monocolored strategy.

Darksteel Colossus and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn finish our creature section, and they’re just tooth and nail targets, pure and simple. Emrakul is, alas, the only Eldrazi spell I’m able to test at this time, and I like that he gives the deck a gaeas blessing type effect. EDH has (or had) many mill combos to contend with, from painters servant / grindstone to helm of obedience / planar void, to vendillion clique / hinder / tunnel vision. Of these, only the helm-line combo seems as scary as it was in the recent past, and the rest could see a steep decline in popularity soon. Hooray for the pre-release foil!

Artifacts

The moxen are a contentious inclusion that many eschew, but I usually play 1v1, and it’s great to hit 5-drops on turn 2. I pack a lot of LD components, and the faster I can either ramp my own mana ahead of my opponent, or nuke a few of his lands directly, the faster my endgame comes online.

Map is just a land tutor, and with wirewood lodge, strip mine, and others below, it’s seldom sitting in your hand.

Lightning Greaves is very strong with Rofellos, protecting him from removal and speeding him up a turn. Usually, the turn 2 greaves leads to a turn 3 with a protected, hasty rofellos, and ~4 extra mana. I’ve seen some paranoid players also running Whispersilk Cloak, but I find that haste is what pushes greaves over the top, and I feel the list is too tight to include the cloak. Cloak isn’t anywhere near the top of the sizeable list of cards I’d like to try to include. On thing to remember with the greaves is that you cannot untap rofellos so long as he has shroud. This is a tradeoff, but the 0-cost equip helps make it very livable.

Umezawas Jitte and Sword of Fire and Ice are ways to make lowly creatures imposing, or fatties insane. I don’t think they need much explanation or justification. I’ve actually won a few games with rofellos due to general damage, though it’s far more common to do this with Umbral Mantle, below.

Crucible of Worlds is a card that really cuts to the heart of who you are, and why you play EDH. It’s like a one-card psychological profile detector. Any EDH deck can run both Strip Mine and Crucible, along with all the appropriately colored fetch lands. It’s very strong, and as much of a must-play as anything in a LD deck. But playing cards like these reveal that you’re in this to win, not for any timmy flavor or johnny coolness. You are embracing your inner spike by making this card choice, and the other players will draw this same conclusion. I, for one, think that choosing Rofellos in the first place is to “walk on the Spike Side,” so it makes no sense to me to blush at playing Crucible. But beware that certain mavens of the game would look down upon you, and question your intelligence, sense of humor, and moral character merely on the basis of your embodiment of this player archetype.

Umbral Mantle and Staff of Domination are two combo pieces, either of which will let you go infinite on mana and win the game essentially immediately. In the case of umbral mantle, you only need 3 forests in play for rofellos to be able to grow himself arbitrarily large this combo has ended games for me on turn 3, when opponents failed to disrupt or provide an early blocker. The staff is a step more broken even than mantle, but it’s a tad slower. With 5 forests and a staff, you have instantly won the game. For 3 of that 5 mana, the staff will untap rofellos, and for another 1, will untap itself, leaving you with a net gain of one green mana. With this infinite mana source, you can now activate the staff’s card drawing ability arbitrarily, drawing your entire deck. It is then possible to crash through with every creature in the deck, thanks to concordant crossroads, and as a “fallback” plan, you can put out a helix pinnacle with 100 counters. Don’t forget to destroy every land on the board with masticore and kamahl, either, should some smug mage show you a fog.

Nevinyrrals Disk is a great sweeper for a color lacking them, and Memory Jar is an insane piece of card drawing machinery, especially when you see the graveyard regrowth package below. I’ve had turns in which I’ve activated memory jar three or more times.

Tutors

Our deck has these 17 ways to search your deck for something, along with four fetchlands, the expedition map, and a wood elves for a total of 23 tutors. This makes our sensei’s divining top better, and gives us plenty of chances to eventually play panglacial wurm from our library. Many of these are tutors for forests, which are an integral part of this deck’s consistency. It may look like a lot of such effects (I mean, do we really need to go so far as Three Visits and Nature’s Lore?), but reduce that number carefully. I don’t think all the tutors necssarily need to be explained on an individual basis, but there are some interesting interactions to point out.

Reap and Sow, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, and Primal Command all double as LD cards, as does Tooth and Nail quite often, getting sundering titan and the like. Again, my default first creature tutor target is wirewood symbiote. The first land I get is usually Wirewood Lodge or Strip Mine. Remember to chain genesis into the graveyard on your way to whatever creature you really want any time you draw Survival of the Fittest.

Non-Tutors

Concordant Crossroads and Exploration are just helpful accellerators, though crossroads has a part to play in the Staff of Domination / Helix Pinnacle line of play.

see you at the crossroads
"see you at the crossroads"

Sylvan Library reads “on your upkeep draw 2 extra cards and pay 8 life” in EDH, while Harmonize is an acceptable card drawing option in green.

Berserk is a card I go back and forth on, and I sometimes think it would be a slot better used to further add to the density of some other type of card, be it a tutor or a fatty or something. But for now, it’s still in here, as I have chameleon colossus as a good creature to call up when you have berserk in hand. Lignify, however, is a card I’ve been very happy with, and I try as hard as possible to reserve it for my opponent’s general. I don’t have a lot of dedicated spot removal because I have a lot of flexible cards that play LD, but can fill in the gaps when needed.

Speaking of LD, the theme continues with Thermokarst, Creeping Mold, Plow Under, and even Desert Twister. When you see cards like desert twister, it’s imperative to remember that for us, it’s a turn 3 play as often as not. Plow Under is among the five-drops that can seal a game up when played on turn 2 with the aid of a mox. How does a two-turn head start sound, when you’re already the fastest deck around?

When it comes to reusing cards you’ve played once, green is where it’s at. So many of our spells, like the recently touted Plow Under and its sister LD spells, are even more devastating when played repeatedly. Reclaim, Revive, Regrowth, Restock, and Nostalgic Dreams join Eternal Witness in helping our arsenal do double-, triple-, and quadruple- duty. Natures Spiral is one I’ve been considering, but it’s not in this build. I find these cards to be both useful, and psychologically effective. They undermine your opponent’s spirit, making them feel lost in the morass of your deck, and breaking their will to fight.

Land (33)

The manabase has ebbed and flowed over time, but I like to keep the non-forests to a minimum. Thus, the current list keeps it tight at 4 non-forests (I count the fetchlands as essentially forests here… their job is to thin the deck out, and to provide additional panglacial wurm searches). Wirewood Lodge, Gaeas Cradle, Maze of Ith, and Strip Mine are the only “real” non-basics. Lodge is nuts with Our Hero, and Maze of Ith is great at stalling past big fat generals. Strip Mine is our offering to the Gods of Spikedom, and Gaea’s Cradle is like a second rofellos in the late game. The bummer with cradle is when you draw it early, and believe it or not, I’ve considered replacing it with forest #26. But for now, I’ve left it in and stuck with 25 forests, so I know that roughly speaking, every fourth card should be a forest, while with 33 land, every third card is some kind of land.

And that’s the deck! I’ll update you below with tales of glory.


UPDATE: Prepare for anti-climax! The tournament was cancelled for lacking the requisite 8 mages. Curses upon the Nationals Tune-up tournament being held concurrently. Oh well. I did get to play one friendly match, a three-way affair between Our Hero, Wrexial “Sexy Wrexy” the Risen Deep, and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. The game had a memorable play when I ramped up to an early 5-forest staff of domination that met a suicide pact of negation from the Wrexy pilot, who had but 4 lands on board, lacking the upkeep cost. He gave Teferi a fighting chance though, but Masticore and Darksteel Colossus came to play, and the wood elves / symbiote combo ensured that I quickly found the mana to blast away his defenses and sneak in for the win.

I will say that my current build, with its emphasis on LD, is far from ideal for a group game of any size. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this update to Rofellos, and I hope you’ll post comments if you have anything to declare. Perhaps in the near future I’ll update this article with a list of cards I’ve been considering off and on.

Garruk Wildspeaker Not Included in “the Garruk Wildspeaker Deck” WotC: WTF?

Wizards has announced the decklist of ‘Teeth of the Predator,’ one of their new “Duels of the Planeswalkers” series of pre-constructed, 60-card decks. These decks are a spinoff of their xBox 360 title, Duels of the Planeswalkers. However, in a dumbfounding and likely ill-fated move, none of the decks will actually contain the planeswalkers they are branded with.

The packaging was announced on Monday the 19th of April. Immediately, in comments below this announcement, the dubious trick was highlighted: that while the packages all feature prominently the planeswalkers whose decks these allegedly are, none of the decks actually contain the planeswalkers in question.

Yep, that’s right. Garruk’s deck has exactly zero copies of Garruk Wildspeaker. And yes, that’s a huge picture of Garruk on the cover of the box. Check out the Garruk box:

Don’t be fooled by the phrase “The Garruk Wildspeaker Deck.” This doesn’t mean “deck featuring Garruk Wildspeaker” as we might reasonably presume, but rather something along the lines of “a deck someone like Garruk Wildspeaker might play.”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I share the sentiment of Andrade, the first poster on the blog announcing the packaging:

There will be a lot of disappointed people if the decks don’t include a Planeswalker card. If I buy “The Nissa Revane deck” with a huge picture of Nissa on the box then I would expect to find a Nissa in there.

“Disappointed” is a bit of an understatement if you ask me. I’d substitute “pissed.” I, for one, would feel utterly deceived and cheated by this blatant near-false-advertising.

The biggest problem here is that this will inevitably only infuriate n00bs who are just getting into Magic, to whom these products appeal greatly as a way to supplement their nascent collections. Someone who is “in the know” and keeps up with Magic culture is far less likely to blindly buy a product on a whim without knowing the specific contents of that product. In short, experienced players won’t be duped by this crap. But the n00b just sees the picture and buys it. This is speculation, but it seems consistent with purchasing behaviors I’ve observed in an unscientific, personal way over the years.

So, WotC, shame on you for peddling this inferior and deceptive product. I don’t know who made this decision, or what their blood-alcohol level was at the time they made it, but you can bet this lemon of a product will tarnish the brand, and in a just world, those responsible for this trash would be purged from the company.

Cheers,
J

Top Picks in Rise of the Eldrazi Draft

The Prerelease was very eventful. I started with draft, and first picked Joraga Treespeaker because to me green seems like the most powerful color in Eldrazi limited. My second pick was Ondu Giant, and once third pick came around I knew it was a Prerelease: Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre was in the back of my pack. From there I got a few Smite, an Oust and Guard Duty to combat the Eldrazi. I ended with two Skittering Invasion, Artisan of Kozilek, a bunch more ramp in the form of two Overgrown Battlement, two Joraga Treespeaker and Growth Spasm. My back up plan, if I wasn’t ramping into a turn 4 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre was just beat down. Dawnglare Invoker and Wildheart Invoker were absolutely ridiculous. Needless to say I went undefeated in four rounds of swiss.

What I took from the draft were top five picks for commons and uncommons in each color:

White:

1. Dawnglare Invoker

2. Knight of Cliffhaven

3. Oust

4. Kabira Vindicator

5. Guard Duty

Dawnglare Invoker breaks through stalemates, flies, and makes an aggressive strategy viable. It is how you can stop those blasted Eldrazi from attacking with Annihilator, and making the green decks unable to ramp with Joraga Treespeaker and Overgrown Battlement, so tap them down during their upkeep. I honestly feel that Dawnglare Invoker might be the most important limited card in this format.

Knight of Cliffhaven is the best aggressive creature in white. You could probably make an argument for Caravan Escort, which I might switch out for later down the road, but I have a feeling that Knight of Ciffhaven flying over early turn walls, and being out of Last Kiss and Staggershock range is more important.

Oust is amazing at dealing with Eldrazi, fully leveled creatures, early ramp creatures, creatures with Totem armor on them, and pretty much everything. It is the best soft removal white has, and might edge up to second place down the road.

Kabira Vindicator has a huge toughness, and makes your Eldrazi spawn relevant attackers. He sits out of Flame Slash range very quickly, and hard even to kill with Induce Despair.

Guard Duty is an interesting choice for top 5 but I think if you don’t have an answer for an Eldrazi you should pretty much scoop em up. It does combo well with Grotag Seige-Runner, which is kind of cool.

Smite and Hyena Umbra are both honorable mentions. Perhaps even Demystify as there are a lot of important enchantments.

Blue:

1. Regress

2. Enclave Cryptologist

3. Narcolepsy

4. See Beyond

5. Domestication

Regress is tempo setter, combat trick, Totem armor disruptor, level resetter, and a catch all card for blue. It’s 2U casting cost is easily splashable and a great first pick for blue.

Enclave Cryptologist is a looter in a bomb oriented format, with “haste” on turn two after playing her on turn one. She eventually becomes a straight up Archivist and is incredibly powerful. Also fairly easy to splash as you only really need one island.

Narcolepsy is an answer to an Eldrazi hitting board. Also punishes Totem armor on creatures, and all around locks a creature out of the game.

See Beyond is like a looter effect but allows you to shuffle your unwanted Eldrazi spells in the early hand back into the library for later use. It helps dig to your key spells, which blue will usually be a support color due it’s weak creatures and spells.

The only reason Domestication is in over Hada Spy Patrol is because it needs an answer for Dawnglare Invoker. The power of Dawnglare Invoker is really that large.

An honorable mention is Sea Gate Oracle, as he might be better than See Beyond in certain decks, but probably not most.

Black:

1. Nirkana Cutthroat

2. Induce Despair

3. Vendetta

4. Suffer the Past

5. Bloodrite Invoker

Black is a difficult color to rank due to its tremendously underpowered spells. It has a couple good removal pieces, but really lacks in good creatures. It mainly excels in its bombs at rare/mythic rare status. Nirkana Cutthroat is the most  efficient black creature the color has. Probably the next creatures in line are Zof Shade and Null Champion which isn’t saying much. It isn’t bogged down by big walls due to it’s Deathtouch, and it can trade with big ol’ Eldrazi when it is on defense.

Induce Despair is a bit situational due to the creature needing to be in the hand clause. With an Eldrazi in your hand, it doesn’t make it such dead weight. Also, it gets around Totem armor by giving the creature -X/-X instead of dealing damage.

Vendetta is good at killing little creatures at instant speed in response to leveling or even Totem armor. It might not be better than Induce Despair the more I play, but I like where it is positioned right now.

Suffer the Past is an interesting variant on X spells. It can certainly end games pretty quickly, and at instant speed to boot. Right now I like this card a lot, but it may drop over time, I’m slightly on the fence, but I like it a lot.

Bloodrite Invoker is an invoker that ends the game very quickly. Like most invokers, they are great in stalemates.

Black isn’t a very deep color at all, with very little variance in their spells and not a lot of tricks, just rares that are very color specific and incredibly powerful.

Red:

1. Flame Slash

2. Staggershock

3. Brimstone Mage

4. Heat Ray

5. Traitorous Instinct

Flame Slash kills nearly everything in the format. I like Staggershock as a burn spell a lot too, but I think what it doesn’t kill is really annoying, although both are tremendously powerful. Staggershock can hit players where Flame Slash cannot. Creatures have bigger butts in this format.

Brimstone Mage is a tank. He gains a formidable power and toughness, and decimates creatures and opponents. He might be the best pinger of all time.

Heat Ray with a lot of mana can kill nearly any creature at instant speed. It also deals with bigger Eldrazi later in the game. It can be nearly any size and doesn’t take a lot of red mana investment. Very splashable.

Traitorous Instinct grabs Eldrazi, and clears the way of blockers. It is a Threaten that can put some serious pressure on the opponent. I like it a lot.

Green:

1. Joraga Treespeaker

2. Beastbreaker of Bala Ged

3. Pelakka Wurm

4. Wildheart Invoker

5. Kozileks Predator

Joraga Treespeaker ramps you so incredibly quickly, and you never even have to level it past the first level. The way it comes down on turn one and recycles the level investment you put into it the next turn by producing GG is remarkable. Five mana on turn three with only one spell played. The beauty of levelers.

Beastbreaker of Bala Ged is aggression and efficiency all in one. Tramplers are important in a format of chump blocking. Also, being able to dish out four damage to terminate walls is incredible.

Pelakka Wurm is a tremendous creature, with usefulness after usefulness. The 7 life and the 7/7 body gives you a great stabilizing card. The trample gives you aggression. The card lets dig to more spells after it hits the graveyard. It is the dream wurm for green.

Wildheart Invoker makes creatures into huge attackers with trample. They way he breaks stalemates is phenomenal. Even a lousy Eldrazi spawn can become a 5/6 trampler. A four mana, 4/3 is also nothing to scoff at. Wildheart Invoker is astounding for green to punish the opponent with.

Kozileks Predator makes two additional eldrazi spawn tokens when he enters, which allows for ramping, and blocking. The beauty of him is he is a 3/3, so he is fairly aggressive, and he creates board presence very early.

Rise of Eldrazi is an interesting draft format for sure, but unfortunately it isn’t very exciting. I can’t wait for M11 now. After a few drafts I feel like certain colors have little to no depth, and others just have everything. Also, losing to an invoker is probably the most common death.

Happy earth day!

Rise of the Eldrazi Set Review and Analysis: Black

Power 9 Pro is excited to bring you another set review for Magic the Gathering’s expansion set Rise of the Eldrazi. With Pre-release and Release tournaments coming up over the next two weeks and a full spoiler available, the Power 9 Pro Team is putting in a collaborative effort to review and analyze the entire set. We’ll be looking at the cards from the vantage point of limited, affects on standard, extended or legacy-formats and whether Rise will have any new must-haves for Elder Dragon Highlander. This post is for the black portion of Rise of the Eldrazi.

Joe
He’s fast, but he dies to walls… which makes him seem pretty bad here. Then again, he can brawl with some mid-level fatties.

Mike
This guy is really interesting. Normally vanilla creatures don’t hack it in constructed formats but it’s clear that he’s much stronger in a world where 1 power creatures are far more rare. There are good creatures that would take this guy out (stoneforge mystic comes to mind) but you have to at least consider using a 4/4 for 3cc.

Justin
I think this is a solid early to mid pick in Limited. Black has the removal in Vendetta, Consume the Meek, Corpsehatch and others to make the drawback almost painless.


Joe
I love it! This is like Wall Bane.

Mike
An interesting mini theme is forming here. This looks like a fine limited sideboard card that could potentially deal with the rare cycle of Level-Up creatures, but his mana cost is probably just a bit too high to make him more than a niche, fringe creature.

Justin
Nice in Limited to wipe out those silly Level Up creatures. 4cc 2/3 with an ability seems like a decent mid-round pick.


Joe
Yikes. I’m not planning to run this kind of thing unless I have >5 cards with CMC > 9, and I don’t know how I could ever justify running that many cards that are so expensive.

Mike
This is one expensive enchantment. Did they reprint dark ritual? Free recurring damage is clearly strong but I don’t know how many formats allow for a 7 cost enchantment to do work.

Justin
Maybe as an alternate win-con in Eldrazi centered decks? Still seems pretty expensive with BBB in the casting cost.


Joe
Man, once you’re on 8 mana, this is pretty sweet. Until then, this is a pretty wimpy guy. I’m willing to give him a try.

Mike
Seems like a fine blocker in limited, but are you really going to want to go out of your way to try and use 8 mana for this guy?

Justin
This one and the green Invoker are probably the best of the cycle. However that is not saying much. I would have liked this better as a 1/3 or a 2/2. You want him to be able to stick around long enough for his ability to matter.


Joe
Hmm… a smaller, faster nantuko husk. should be good, esp. with all the spawn.

Mike
This guy will replace vampire aristocrat in decks that found it necessary to play him, but at 1/1 he’s really behind on the power of 2 drops that vampires already have.


Joe
Faster, smaller, but flying gravedigger makes me happy. I’ll run this in any Bx deck.

Mike
I think this guy is pretty good, people love recursion and cards like this in limited are usually really handy similarly to Worldwake’s Pilgrim’s Eye.


Joe
Man, this will sure help anyone running late_game.dec. And instant speed too! Yow!

Dillon
A very interesting Instant speed sweeper. What it kills is unfortunately outweighed by what it doesn’t kill right now. I do like it though. It has it’s place in sideboards.

Mike
Considering most black decks are a bit aggro I don’t see this having a ton of application but plenty of decks operate under the 3cc threshold, I could see this having implications in extended vs. zoo though it is a little expensive.


Joe
This is some excellent card advantage. Definitely worth a slot, though you’ll want to try and time this right so they don’t just lose two spawn tokens.

Mike
This looks great. Double creature kill for 4 mana and lifegain? Rebound looks like it’s really good on a good card and this is likely the best example in the entire set.


Joe
Blech. No thanks.

Mike
These auras are usually not used very often but 2 life for a tap is pretty strong. This card as your turn 2 on the play will go a long way.


Joe
Uncommon removal is the stuff of limited. This one gives you blockers to boot, and even help repay the principle cost. Seems good to me, even at 5.

Rob
Only removal not on a creature so far. Seems ok. Makes Spawn which are going to be the center of all sorts of attempted tricks. Goodness, I’m having Thrull Flashbacks.

Mike
This is a fine removal card, it’s pricey but ramping you to something bomby from the mythic rare selection of this set gives it just enough intrigue to make it better than fine.


Joe
Hmmm… I don’t think so. Maybe I side this in if I notice my opponent is monocolor…. but probably not even then.

Mike
This is a fun color hate card. I don’t know how widely it’ll get used but it could definitely do some serious damage in mono-colored limited and possibly even constructed.


Joe
Hmm… I’m not seeing it. This is definitely worse than mogg fanatic by a wide margin.

Mike
I can’t see this guy doing much, but he could get in there for a damage or two in the right kind of game. The fact that he’s just a human wizard makes him about as bland as bland can be.


Joe
Not without tons of fliers to target.

Mike
At first I thought that this card was pretty janky, but given the 1cc mana cost (awesome) and eldrazi tokens running rampant, this card could do some serious work on a flyer. I absolutely love the cost of this card. I’m excited.


Joe
This is a re-usable removal factory. Bomb for sure at a very aggressive cost.

Dillon
She is a machine gun and she swings over to destroy your life total after she is finished with your creatures. I think she will absolutely see play.

Mike
This guy is just a limited bomb. But here we are with another 5 cost vampire. Everything in vampires costs 3 or 5 and to be honest I don’t know if this guy hangs with what we already have. Yes, he has built in removal but the Legendary status really holds Drana back from the potential to staple himself to constructed decklists.


Joe
Two spawn seems like too few to me.

Mike
This is the kind of creature that tables twice but the Eldrazi player in the draft doesn’t really hate having. He blocks well and he has Spawn: 2.


Joe
This is interesting since they probably just take 1 a turn, even if they have walls that live through a 6 power attack. I might try him, but he’s low on the list… he might be creature 12-14 or something.

Mike
This guy is pretty cool, except at one toughness does it really matter if you ever block him? He seems like a perfect target for demonic appetite though.


Joe
This seems might fine. Fits in the stall & ramp approach nicely.

Mike
Pretty pricey for a life drain of 3 but it might serve a purpose somewhere, sometime… though I doubt it.


Joe
Again, I think the only hope for aggressive decks is to have a critical mass of evasion, and to selectively use removal only on flying walls and such. So, I think this normally-mediocre flier might have a home here.

Mike
Vanilla!


Joe
So for 5 total mana you get a reusable disfigure, and that seems mighty good to me. Later on you can even get a not-so-sudden death. Very nice indeed.

Dillon
He is reusable and a Vampire. He is pretty solid even without a huge mana dump. Once he gets to that last stage, which goes pretty quickly actually, he is a Jedi at killing creatures.

Rob
Leveler. Disappointing. I so hope I’m missing something with these guys.

Mike
I think these one drop levelers are giong to be the best. If you want to waste your first couple turns feeding this guy, he will rule combat until someone smothers him.


Joe
Talk about an all-in creature! However, this might be the back-breaker if your deck has a fair number of Eldrazi to boot. Such a deck would be mighty fun to play, I think.

Mike
All-Your-Eggs-In-One-Basket Demon? Too much of a gamble for me unless my opponent is at 6.


Joe
Strong removal. Run it.

Mike
This is a great removal card in limited. It makes your bigger drops at least a little useful and I think it could see play in some standard vampire decks with their plethora of 5 drops; a great way to kill the baneslayer.


Joe
Seems like a potentially strong card in some constructed formats, but it won’t do a whole lot in limited, I think.

Dillon
I love this card just as much as I am disappointed by it. I love it on turn one, maybe even turn two, but nowhere else. I feel like running 3 of them maindeck is all you can afford, but when is it better than Duress? I feel like it is a sideboard card at first glance but then I realize you only bring it in against things you either just want to Duress or you can kill it with Deathmark.

Mike
Pretty decent. I could see this going into a Dark Depths deck over thoughtseize when all you really want to do is eliminate a removal card for your marit lage, which this will take out every time.


Joe
Another decent removal spell that can potentially finish the deal.

Mike
This is fine I suppose, but at 2 damage I don’t know how many things it’s going to kill in a constructed format.


Joe
Interesting. I’d be afraid to run it unless I had some spawn generation myself. I wouldn’t want to rely on my opponent to pump this guy.

Mike
This guy has some potential in the right deck but eldrazi spawn make this guy scary. You could definitely build a limited deck around him if you were able to pick up 1 or 2.


Joe
Another situational sideboard card.

Mike
People love playing black in limited, and this will probably end up as a 22nd or 23rd spell in one of those drafts where 5 people are black so things are pretty thin, and then you have a way to finish off 4 of the opponents at your table.


Joe
A strong leveler. Good at level 0, good thereafter.

Mike
This guy is pretty good, decent stats off the bat and his level up makes him something your opponent has to deal with on the very next turn.


Joe
Seems fairly strong to me, but obviously better the more swamps you run.

Mike
This guy is downright scary, and isn’t too overly priced for 6cc, especially when he’s doubling what you can do with your mana. Obviously the mythic rare status is what holds him back from excelling in what would be his best format: limited.


Joe
A good example of a leveler that’s probably not good enough. He’s no good on level 0, and only barely okay at 1-3. I’m not excited by him.

Mike
This guy will be a filler in a limited curve but I don’t see this cycle of 2 cost Levelers who level for 3 colorless being gamebreakers.


Joe
This seems like a superb way to generate spawn tokens.

Rob
This guy seems really good. Maybe the heart of some silly combo, as these are the sorts of cards that enable such things. It brings to view that so far the Uncommons seem better than the Rares in this set.

Mike
I’m sure that this guy will have his uses in certain decks, he seems a little expensive for something like dredge but he’s a type of creature that could be excellent years from now in extended if something similar to dread return gets printed.


Joe
I don’t relish it, but it’s a mediocre way to forestall an impending Eldrazi I suppose.

Mike
I perish the thought of ever casting this card.


Joe
Super strong, but expensive. Should be hard to match once he’s online.

Mike
He’s really pricey, but he’s a walking, talking Damnation if you stick him.


Joe
A fun card for multi-player, but not ideal for limited. It’s more like a “lose less” than anything. Kind of the opposite of a “win more” card.


Joe
A decent sweeper that would be much better as an instant.

Mike
A cute combat trick, but seismic strike didn’t do anything in Worldwake so I don’t see this doing anything either.


Joe
Not a lot of bang for your buck here. He’s very easy to chump block.

Mike
I just can’t see running these guys unless you had the potential to stick dozens (and I mean doezens) of eldrazi spawn per game.


Joe
This could potentially be a good finisher. As an instant, you can just pop this off at your opponent’s EOT when you don’t have anything else better to do.

Dillon
I love this card. It being instant speed is amazing. It feels kind of like Corrupt in a way. I think it will see play if x/B control rears it’s head. Where it shines is when you can just dump mana into it and just tear away hellspark elementals and some burn spells and get some life out of it. Even against Knight of the Reliquary decks and all of their fetch lands, you just gain so much life and neuter their life total as well as their Knights. I think it is solid, especially side by side with discard spells.

Mike
I dig this card, it’s got some real potential across a number of formats and has great synergy with mill decks.


Joe
This isn’t a terrible way to cycle through the dead weight in your hand, but it’s significantly worse when you actually like the cards you’re holding.

Mike
This guy is pretty interesting if you’re really flooded, I could see him doing decent things in limited. But he’s rare, so…


Joe
This is very strong removal, destined to see constructed play (again).

Dillon
I want to see a return of Rock decks. Probably more than most people, and this card being reprinted makes me excited to maybe see something in that direction. I’m not sure if it is better than Deathmark right now, but I think it will have it’s place soon.

Mike
Very interesting. We already know how strong a 1cc removal card can be in standard over the past year and a half and this one looks like it could pick up with Path to Exile left off.


Joe
Awesome removal that will nuke walls well, but it’s less than stellar against annihilating Eldrazi.

Rob
Rebound is going to wreck people. Combat trick Deathtouch is wicked. Then if you put it on your biggest guy on the rebound, or on a pinger, you clean up their board or apply a sound beating. Rebound combat tricks are a win-win choice for any deck not running Cascade. Jund need not apply.

Mike
Double removal for 1 mana is just good. It’s pretty limited, but if they’re not blocking your creature you’re getting some damage through. I think it’s best played on your opponent’s turn but it’s pretty versatile.


Joe
Too weak.

Mike
It’s too pricey to be really good but it could potentially block some serious threats you might not otherwise be able tod eal with.


Joe
This is a terrible leveler.

Mike
I think this is simply too expensive to level up, and without levelling it up it’s really just not that good.


We’d love to hear your thoughts. Did we miss anything? You can also check out the rest of the set review and analysis. :) Colorless White Blue Black

Rise of the Eldrazi Set Review and Analysis: Blue

Power 9 Pro is excited to bring you another set review for Magic the Gathering’s expansion set Rise of the Eldrazi. With Pre-release and Release tournaments coming up over the next two weeks and a full spoiler available, the Power 9 Pro Team is putting in a collaborative effort to review and analyze the entire set. We’ll be looking at the cards from the vantage point of limited, affects on standard, extended or legacy-formats and whether Rise will have any new must-haves for Elder Dragon Highlander. This post is for the blue portion of Rise of the Eldrazi.

Joe
Cantrip on enchantment alteration seems like a neat card. This is essentially a very soft, situational removal spell. Unlike the original, this must target one of your own creatures.

Zak
I like this in limited if you have enough auras, but unless a really strong enchantment decks comes up, I don’t think this will see much standard play. I can see this being a dead card whenever you don’t have an aura out that can enchant one of your creatures so that makes it all the less likely that this will see play.

Rob
You can save a non-totem armor aura from being wiped away with the guy getting killed, Ninjutsu an aura from the guy you are holding back onto your attacker as a combat trick or or move an aura from your tapped guy onto a blocker likewise. These all have one problem though: they involve auras and increasing risk of getting x-for-1′d. At least the cantrip helps a little.

Mike
You have to work a little too hard for this card to be a 2 for 1 in limited. Unless you have lots of spicy targets and little men, it will be tough to even cycle this one. Random blowouts, but beyond that, this should probably be on your bench.

Justin
This is a fun little cantrip that can be pretty sweet in the right deck. This seems like casual play material only. This will have no competitive impact at all.


Joe
Seems pricey enough that even a time walk sort of deck will have trouble setting it up. It just seems too gimmicky to me.

Zak
There’s no way this is seeing standard play. I would much rather play Maelstrom Nexus, because that affects all spells and costs 2 less, and that doesn’t see play (although costing a full WUBRG might have something to do with it). In EDH, this is the nuts. Double Time Stretch anyone?

Rob
This set’s version of Maelstrom Nexus. Sure, you could try to build around it to do cute things, but shouldn’t your mana be doing more by this point? Though, looking at it now, it does bring to mind that rebound spells can help make Pyromancer Ascension better, for whatever that is worth.

Mike
An extremely powerful effect, but probably too expensive to ever actually use. Very reminiscent of Reflection Mirror, Archmage’s Ascension or Maelstrom Nexus, where you get to do something absurd but at a cost that isn’t quite approachable.

Justin
I like this for EDH decks like Erayo. Great to have in play with your card drawing spells. Seems a bit too slow for constructed and is a dud in Limited.


Joe
Hmm. Unless I had ~5 or more levelers, I’d shy away from this common.

Zak
This seems bad, but it is highly dependant on your levelers. What I want to say is that if you have sufficiently advanced levelers out, why aren’t you spending this mana on leveling them up some more?

Rob
I like the flavor of this card, and it could be powerful in the right decks, but you’d probably rather have a leveling flyer in the same role.

Mike
Fairly narrow, but if you happen to open enough levelers than this card can be an absurd win condition. I could see drafting a weenie deck based around this and the quickest levelers possible, as a 4/4 flier is a force to be reckoned with.

Justin
Maybe good in draft? I am not a fan of Level Up so I can’t be pleased with this common.


Joe
This has promise. I could see trying it in some older format merfolk decks, even though better options exist on the face of it. Legacy merfolk decks are already very tight, and they have lots of lords already, but this is a decent substitute for, say, sejiri merfolk, if you lack the tundras to make the Uw version. In limited, he’s awesome as a 2UU flying hill giant, or a 4UU air elemental largely because of the installment plan that is level up.

Zak
We don’t usually see merfolk with flying, so this is a nice change. However, merfolk’s strength has always been in how cheap and efficient its lords are, and this is neither. Having a Lord of Atlantis die to a Doom Blade is expected, and you can easily replace him. This guy? Not so much.

Rob
Speaking of the leveling flyer you’d rather have over Champion’s Drake, this guy has potential and if level was a better mechanic, I’d ponder applications in Legacy Fish decks for him. I think all levelers want to reward you for the first level, but so many don’t and this is a prime example. 2UU for a 3/3 Flyer doesn’t seem horrible, but it doesn’t seem good either. Just missed the all-star mark, but might see some play if standard Fish take-off. I wonder if there are any merfolk on Mirrodin?

Mike
Speaking of the 2 drop flier, too bad this isn’t a common with some irrelevant 2nd level. As a rare Air Elemental for 6 spread out over a few turns, this card is probably just OK in the perceived limited environment. Likely not good enough for the mana intensive Legacy fish decks.

Justin
OK, as far as Level Up goes, this isn’t very bad at all. Blue is the color that can benefit the most from long drawn-out games. I am still not a fan.


Joe
I like the crab flavor, but the ability isn’t very tricky. Just keep any tapping creatures you might have in mind when you’re considering this card.

Zak
This seems like you’d play it more as a proactive regeneration shield than anything else. Your opponent will most likely not fall for you untapping a blocker with this, but it does change their playstyle. However, if you desire this effect, you have to leave 3 mana fallow every turn, which is not something you really want to do.

Rob
Meh. I’m sure it will fall in with all the other untap mana maker combo-enablers. Just another in a long line.

Mike
Filigree Sages was just OK in a limited Esper deck, and that was a 2/3. Certainly not worth a card investment.

Justin
Not the best Umbra by a fair margin. Will see some use in Limited but that is about all.


James
TEXT
Joe
If you’re in base-blue, run this card. It will stop Eldrazi shennanigans before they even hit play. Very good. Probably playable in standard and perhaps beyond due to EtB lands.

Zak
I dislike this card for limited primarily because of how it slows you down a turn when you’re aiming to land an Eldrazi. However, I’m glad wizards didn’t make it rare as it was originally spoiled, because this could be relevant in standard. Replaying a Halimar Depths can be excellent, but then you’ve really set yourself back on tempo. The versitility of this card is the only thing that’s making this card better than Negate or Essence Scatter.

Rob
I know permission is insanely good because I hate sitting across from it. This gives Counter Control decks all sorts of building options. Run it with spell Lands, non-land mana, late game nearly tapping out, or just when you need to stop a bad thing before it starts. It will certainly make the rounds in the hands of Good Blue players. The Bad Blue players will just whine that it’s not Counterspell.

Mike
We asked for a balanced counter, and R&D is certainly getting creative. Familiar’s Muse failed because blue decks typically didn’t want guys on the table early to activate it. This falls to a similar problem, as it forces you to take another action that your deck likely does not want to put up (Time Walking yourself). Factor in that the other 2 drop counters are pretty solid in this current format (especially Flashfreeze) and this simply isn’t worth the cost.


Joe
This might be what you need to force through the last bits of damage in your aggro deck. Still seems a bit on the weak side to me.

Zak
This seems okay in the late game as a way to ensure that your Eldrazi don’t get chump-blocked to death. However, it doesn’t cantrip which makes it a pretty dead card for most of the game. Not seeing myself playing it.

Rob
This is good for letting a monster into you opponent’s house in limited through their wall of defenders, but I don’t think it’ll do much else.

Mike
Blue decks are usually full of fliers, and rarely will you need to force your annihilator into action as he should be winning anyhow. A reach spell in the wrong colors it feels like.


James
kind of a cool way to use Abyssal Persecutor to win the game…on curve too…neat…but the sac outlet is a bit weird. glad i was able to think of at least one way to use it…

Joe
Neat flavor. Should be a decent control magic.

Zak
It’s a Threads of Disloyalty variant for standard. Unfortunately, for 5 mana more, we can get straight up Mind Control or Vapor Snare. I don’t see this seeing much play.

Rob
In a set with so much fat, why bother printing this? It’s a bad Mind Control. Maybe in a U/R Baazar Trader deck it will be extra stealing effects, but I doubt it’ll see any real play.

Mike
Honestly, this card is extremely tough to evaluate without any actual experience in the limited format. Confiscate effects are typically insane as they are automatic 2 for 1′s (removing their guy and getting yourself one), but it is often because you are taking their best man. With the limitations of this card and the context of the format, however, and may be rather subpar.


Joe
Seems like a tough one to ever untap. Maybe this is a good reason to pick up a crab umbra?

Zak
It’s Deep-Slumber Titan‘s little sister, and it will probably see just as much play, or lack thereof.

Rob
I kinda stopped caring about the time I saw that it enters Tapped and doesn’t untap. 5/5 for 3 is good. 5/5 that is useless for 3 and needs even more cards and mana spent at it is bad.

Mike
Remember when you first started playing Magic and worked and worked to make a card like Leviathan work? Remember how much that sucked? Pass.


Joe
A very strong umbra. Not many of the walls fly, so evasion will be key to aggressive strategies, and this will let you take to the skies at about the time the ground gets clogged up.

Zak
There we go, one of the best auras in the set, easily first-pickable. It turns your crappy early game creatures like Glory Seeker into something that puts your opponent on a huge clock. First pickable.

Rob
Too Expensive. Play a 3/3 Flying guy for 4U and you’d be better off.

Mike
Largely depends on the colors you’re paired with in your limited deck. Giving some evasion to a big beasty to avoid those Walls and Spawn tokens is quite helpful, but keeping it with your other blue fliers is pretty subpar.


James
Hmm…Probably too expensive. the Pyromancer Ascension is way better…

Joe
This seems entirely too slow. Mirari makes him completely obsolete in older formats… though I guess Vedalken Aethermage can tutor for this guy! Really his problem is speed. Once he’s online, his effect is nice, but it takes 3UUUU + UU and tap to copy the first spell. That’s way too much to be very relevant, even in such a slow format.

Zak
This seems really unstable. If you ever level him up to max and untap with him….You’re going to copy 2 Terminates and then he’ll die. That’s if you’re living in magical Xmas land. Or you could get 2 more copies of Day of Judgment. This guy just doesn’t cut it.

Rob
Spell copying amuses me in Casual. I like to ponder what it would be worth in doing broken things in competitive, but the conclusion is usually that it takes too much to set up. I think this supports that conclusion.

Mike
Another insane effect that just requires too much investment. The fact that this guy can simply be Terminated for insane value across an open board is a little embarrassing, and how many instants and sorceries really need copying anyhow?


James
TEXT
Joe
This is among my favorite totem armor auras. Flash makes it a nice combat trick, and it can even trade with a slightly bigger creature and live to tell the tale.

Zak
This is solid, as it makes for a combat trick which will play similar to Kindled Fury in M10 limited. However, it’s effect seems like it won’t be very good late game, unless you want to keep an extra 2 mana open when you’re casting Eldrazi, which you really can’t afford to do.

Rob
Giving Aura’s flash make them a lot more playable as you get a lot more flexibility in playing around opponent’s abilities to react and you can use them as combat tricks. Also, with Totem Armor you can save one of your guys from an incoming Terminate or the like.

Mike
I happen to like this card a lot, as it has both the flexibility of an Unsummon targeting your own man to protect him from a removal spell, while also giving him a small boost to prevent an otherwise trade. However, both effects may be too small, as +1/+1 is almost negligible when fighting 0/4 walls and monstrous Eldrazi, and having the poor side of Unsummon is less than exciting.


James
Aren’t there cheaper ways to do this in standard? Anyway, i’ts not the worst card for limited. At least there are Eldrazi that will recur back to the llibrary regardless of where they’re “going into the graveyard from.” I can see this being really good in limited actually. But not in constructed.

Joe
An expensive merfolk looter, but a looter nonetheless, and with slight benefit for longer games.

Zak
This is fine for limited. Remember that [card]Reckless Scholar[/card saw play, and he didn’t attack very much. This also gives you a more relevant effect in the late game. Solid, solid pick.

Rob
UU1 for a 0/1 Looter, UUUU3 for a 0/1 Card drawer. I see so many ways that this seems a waste of mana and card. Just run Reckless Scholar. Really.

Mike
Looter effects are always fabulous in limited (yes, even Reckless Scholar was fine despite the format), and I see this as no exception. If it’s in your opener, it is almost as good as Merfolk Looter as you would probably pass on turn 1, and the investment is fairly small to actually start punching out card advantage.

Justin
I don’t see why you would dump 7 mana into this guy. I don’t understand how the series of play is supposed to pay off. Turn 1: Plau Cryptologist. Turn 2: Level up Cryptologist with no mana open. Use ability to cycle a card. Turn 3: Level up Cryptologist again w/ one man up, use ability to cycle card. Stare across table at Wild Nacatl x2 and Knight of the Reliquary…. Bad, just bad.


Joe
Sort of a weak, situational combat trick, but cantrip saves it and makes it passable in my book.

Zak
It seems like this set is full of cheap blue instants that just don’t do enough. Wouldn’t pick in limited, has no home in constructed.

Rob
Filler common.

Mike
Reminiscent of Aura Finesse – too small of an effect that even cantripping cannot save.


Joe
Not bad for a flying 3/3. Only one colorless more than hill giant and decidedly more sexy.

Zak
This seems absolutely fine in limited, and the ability to send your army to the air for a turn can be extremely relevant as the game progresses. At worst it’s 5 mana for a 3/3 flying, which is totally reasonable.

Rob
It’s that 3/3 Flyer for U4 I was talking about back on Drake Umbra! You would be better off playing this than that. But of course you’d probably be better off running a lot of things rather than this. I wish the invoker cycle this time around would have been better than the old ones, but oh well.

Mike
3/3 Fliers for 5 are respectable, but not exciting. The 2nd ability isn’t irrelevant, but its too slow and expensive to ever truly surprise your opponent. Happy to play with in limited, just above filler level.

Justin
Way overpriced. This one is only slightly better than the white Invoker.


Joe
Situationally awesome.

Zak
Umm… it seems like a turn-5 answer to boros. You should probably be dead by then. I really don’t see any place for it.

Rob
Cool for those Flyer decks, except a Flyer or removal spell would be better here. Oops.

Mike
Probably quite good in your limited deck where anything without flying is probably on defense anyhow. Way too expensive for constructed.


Joe
This is the wall you want more than just about any other.

Zak
This is the ideal wall, a Fog Bank. It stalls for as long as you need, and it’s a wall your opponents can’t just attack through.

Rob
This has potential to be really dangerous and jarring. He’d be a great target for some Auras and doing his job just eating any guy your opponent throws your way.

Mike
Beloved Chaplain was a good man, and even though I can’t stick a Boar Umbra on this man to much effect, he holds the fort down well. Solid role player for limited.


Joe
Well, initially I thought this would be too slow, but maybe this is the extemity of the lengths to which you must go if you want to race the walls. On turn 3, you’ll still be starting your 10 round clock with this guy. I dunno… he seems to be on the margin between playable and unplayable. Definitely not seeming stellar to me.

Zak
I can’t help but compare this to Aether Figment. However, with the abundance ofwalls in this set, the unblockable might be more relevant the originally thought.

Rob
Leveling cost too much, but at least it is a low climb to get use out of his levels. Rewards you for the first time you level him, which is cool, but the cost and risk of throwing away mana with a Level on the stack puts him out of my typical consideration.

Mike
If leveling was 1 cheaper, he’d certainly pair well with the 1/1 flying 2 drop. As is, the investment is probably just too much.


Joe
Another situationally awesome card. I might leave it in the side unless I was short on walls.

Zak
A wall that becomes an attacker in the late game seems like a good pick, but a 6.6 doesn’t seem as relevant against an Eldrazi. Although you could board this in against a blue player, I’m not sure how often the last level will be relevant.

Rob
Massive wall action without defender. The pay off for leveling this guy just once edges him just barely into consideration. I love how epic he becomes at level 5, but getting there will be a trial.

Mike
Again, I can’t help but think about what is missing – if only it had Defender on levels 1-4, I think this card would be much better. However, I probably want to be a bit more productive than inching towards a 6/6 with a decent wall left behind. Likely a 22-23 sort of card.


Joe
Slight improvement on gray ogre in blue makes me willing to give this crab a try.

Zak
I don’t really have anything to say on this, I probably wouldn’t play him in limited because of all the walls.

Rob
I’m sorry Jwari Courser, but Hedron Crab is the only Crab in my life. All hail the Mill Crab’s superiority over all other crabs.

Mike
Vanilla is a good flavor of ice cream.


James
TEXT
Joe
Another card that can deal with Eldrazi. Not bad.

Zak
Man have we comme a long way from Cryptic Command. I love the art, but it’s just not nearly could enough for the cost it demands. In limited it’s fine though, because Countering an Eldrazi can be game-breaking.

Rob
Underwhelming for a 4 CMC counter. Knowledge is power, but knowledge can be bought cheaper.

Mike
Discombobulate never saw any serious play, and while that card is no longer in the format, the bar still is not that low.


James
This guy should just be a wall. Make it a 0/3 for level 0. 0/4 for levels 1-6 and then a 0/6 for 7+ with the ultimate ability. I mean, it’s all pretty useless other than that.

Joe
It’s kind of silly to evaluate mythics for limited, but a 1/3 can slow the game down so that his “ultimate” kicks in, and it should rapidly prove decisive from there.

Zak
I love this in EDH, especially group games. However, he seems like he’ll die really easily. Don’t expect this to live for long if you go ultimate.

Rob
A powerful control deck could use this guy as the U Level-up cost could be spared mid-late game while maintaining Control mana. EDH will love to hate this guy. Best Leveler so far, but many more to be spoiled. Later: This guy got bumped for best leveler by Student of Warfare, but he’s still ok all the same.

Mike
More insane effects for equally absurd costs. If I found myself in Mono-Blue I would take this guy without much thought, but outside of that he becomes pretty subpar. Think Timbermaw Larva.

Justin
OK this guy could fit into an Eryo EDH deck. 1/3 for 2cc in Limited is actually pretty good. I still think level up is horrible.


Joe
Meh. Only in bears.dec

Zak
Umm… This just seems bad.

Rob
Filler common. Not a bad one though, but not really good either. Just kinda ok.

Mike
More small effects to give value to cards you shouldn’t be playing anyhow. If any information I’ve read and perceived from spoilers is true, you don’t want to be playing less-than-bears.


Joe
Evasion, I’m guessing, will be the only way to roll with any sort of “fast” deck, and you’ll probably need guys like this in such a deck.

Zak
A 2/3 flying with vigilance is pretty solid for 4, and he can jump your mana producing capacity by 1, provided you play multiple spells. In short, awesome in limited.

Rob
2/3 Flying with a pseudo Vigilance. Might be good with mana ramp guys too, but cost seems clunky. I don’t rule him out of having good synergies with his triggered untap ability though.

Mike
Reminds me of a weak Kinsbaile Baloonist. Could be good if walls are extremely prevalent, but again suffers from being in blue where your men are likely flying through. The fact that it’s not very good at attack does not help either.


James
Looks great for enabling Pyromancer Ascension…heck this is just sweet.

Joe
Love it. This guy is part of the “slow things down” movement, designed to make Eldrazi feasible in limited. This guy should help the cause tremendously, regrowth-ing a removal spell, upping your defender count, and providing an 0/4 wall.

Rob
Tricksy. I’d like to cast Skitter Invasion on the cheap, then tap U and sac for Spawn to cast this and get Skitter back. Not saying that’s best or even good, but these are the types of tom-foolery we should be thinking about with this.

Mike
Izzet Chronarch was a good man in limited, and while a bear is probably better than an 0/4 defender (and Compulsive Research made for a sexier target), this guy should still be alright.

Justin
I like him in x/U EDH. I think the Standard meta is way too fast for this guy. Maybe after Shards rotate out the format will be slow enough to make this wall playable in some sort of control variant.


Joe
Good soft removal. Able to keep an Eldrazi at bay.

Rob
Limited Common Fodder.

Mike
Curse of Chains, but just for blue – and blue removal is some good. May even find a niche in blue mage sideboards to solve the problem that is Putrid Leech, though your probably paired with a color that offers better options (Journey to Nowhere comes to mind).


Joe
Against opponents lacking pingers, this is a find staller, but often they will have trivial, free ways to eliminate this wall. Still, lots of times, you suck up some kind of trick or removal spell with this wall, and until then, you stop the bleeding.

Rob
Another Limited mainstay. The glass wall. Seems ok for it’s intended role.

Mike
A big wall thats effectiveness largely depends on the number of targeting effects printed on played limited cards and cheap flexible spells (such as those cantripping ones).


Joe
Another card that can help you alpha strike / alpha block.

Rob
This card’s possible applications have yet to be fully grok’d. I’ve really got to get my hands on some and start to think about how to abuse it in more depth. I’d make sure I have a set tucked away and meditate on them.

Mike
An apparent limited blowout. While not quite as effective as Sleep, the fact that it is an instant and has additional flexibility in its second mode should prove it to be almost as good.


James
TEXT
Joe
Risky. How many cards will your opponent have on turn 6? In any other set, I’d avoid this, but in ROE, there’s a good chance they’ll still have a few left. If they have 2+, I guess it’s not shabby. This is about the worst top deck imaginable though.

Rob
Possibly good card draw and pressure to make your opponent over extend by playing out before the Rebound, but at the cost and the Sorcery speed, I don’t know if it gets there as far as playability.

Mike
Remember when Tidings was in Standard, or Compulsive Research? Does anyone else die a little inside when they cast Divination outside of M10 limited? It’s almost mocking that they printed Rebound on this, as the opponent will obviously make all efforts to make this as bad as possible on the come-around.


Joe
Wait until the end of your opponent’s first main phase before you return their Eldrazi to their hand with this card. This is a solid spell all around. It even hits lands, like the original boomerang. A strong tempo-oriented option.

Zak
I wish they just reprinted Boomerang, but this is still good at bouncing the all-in Eldrzai play off of spawn tokens. Also can dispatch a fully-leveled creature, which could be nice. If you’re desperate, you can always just bounce an opposing land.

Rob
Boing! Oops, was that your Savage Lands I just bounced Jund? Huh, sucks to be you. I like this with Resounding Wave, Spreading Seas, the black swamp maker and maybe a bit of red for Grixis charm and old fashioned Land Destruction.

Mike
A nice filler for my limited deck, as a simple bounce spell is always appreciated and useful. Not close to constructed play.


James
TEXT
Joe
So this guy will let you have pseudo-haste when you drop your Big Eldrazi scumbag. Not bad at all. There are other pleasant uses here too, but that’s probably going to be the most common.

Zak
This seems fine in EDH, and will be amazing with any Eldrazi by giving it pseudo-haste. You can also copy a card with a cheap level-up cost, and then copy something with a splashy ultimate and higher level up cost.

Rob
This is an odd on-board clone. It doesn’t enter as a guy, turns normal at end of turn and lands vulnerable. Stays a sad little chump when it drops. But, if you are using the most powerful allies (those that count allies when they trigger) then this guy could be ok. Maybe.

Mike
If only this guy kept his state until YOUR next turn (so that he did something on defense), or could copy your opponent’s guys, etc. Vesuvan Shapeshifter this is not.


Joe
card selection and a decent body makes a good staller.

Zak
It’s Sleight of Hand on a stick! This is awesome for improving your mid-game turns and ensuring your land drops. Awesome in limited to make sure you wreck face with your Eldrazi on time.

Rob
I really like this guy’s ability. It’s like Cantrip v. 1.5. Will be great in limited.

Mike
Not quite Court Hussar, but this effect is much stronger than the other marginal effects showing up on undersized bodies in this format. Good limited filler.


Joe
A good card drawer that puts the big card you don’t need yet back and gives you the cards most relevant for now.

Zak
I really like this cards as a Compulsive Research variant, because it can send away cards you don’t need. I think that combo decks will have a great deal of fun with this, because you can just reshuffle excess pieces.

Rob
Great with Treasure Hunt. Draw a land and something good. Play this, draw whatever and shuffle the excess land away. Better than just binning a card.

Mike
I’m not sure if this is better than Lat-Nam’s Legacy, a card occasionally appearing in Vintage Oath lists, as it cannot be fetched with Merchant Scroll. Otherwise, this card will probably show up in Summoning Trap lists to be essentially a draw 2 for 2 when your holding a brick. Solid.

Justin
Oh Man how I wish this was an instant. Still this is a very solid bit of card draw.


Joe
A “fixed” ancestral recall that still seems mighty strong to me. Tapping spawn is no biggie, especially the turn you spawned them. Seems good. I’ll run it if I have even middling numbers of spawn generators.

Zak
I’m hesitant to play this without a large amount of spawn generators, because it could be a dead card most of the time. In constructed, I might play this in an UW aggro deck, but it’s still so risky to play this.

Rob
Really cool on one hand, on the other hand, I wonder how Blue will reliably have out four guys. Of course, this isn’t meant for Blue. This is meant for Green or White who are splashing into Blue for the Card Advantage not to fall behind the Jund and Control decks.

Mike
Gaze of Justice was not the easiest one to pull off, but if your deck was full of Icatian Criers or fetchable Rebels, things were rocking. In a similar vein, if you can get some Spawn makers, this should be rocking.

Justin
Good solid card drawing. I like this in U/W or U/G builds. Great way to shrug off a Blightning.


Joe
3U is a traditional cost for a 2/2 flier. This should be okay.

Zak
I would expect to get a 4/2 flier for 3U (which is what this gives you if you have Training Grounds out), but not for such a long term investment when it dies to almost any burn. Pass.

Rob
Too small and too much cost per level. Gimicky Common Filler.

Mike
The level up effect is a little expensive, but you essentially get to play Wind Drake with a potential upside. Not exactly exciting, but not the end of the world if I’m running it.


James
Wow. Really great for a control deck (constructed) and just big enough to play with the Eldrazi (thinking limited…I’d race with this). Seems more than decent to me.

Joe
6-drop flying 6/6 is a winner in limited. Drawing cards and adding counters makes this just plain nutty. Bombs away!

Zak
This is a fantastic card for limited, and a potential finisher in standard. However, Sphinx of Jwar Isle really doesn’t want to lose his place to this. It’s too bad this dies to Terminate, or he’d see more play.

Rob
Seems playable in some decks, great in others and insane with a Training Grounds in play. Watch it to be alongside it’s Jwar Jwar and Lost Truths brethren as the face of the Blue endgame.

Mike
Limited bomb, but not cutting it for constructed.

Justin
This guy is a solid Rare. Good in Constructed or Limited. Extra good with training grounds in play. I want him in my Kami of the Crescent Moon EDH deck. Four please.


Joe
If you have some kind of consistent way to make him evasive, this ophidian variant will rock. Otherwise, this is a weak, overcosted bear that won’t ever attack into opposing walls.

Zak
This card could be really good with Distortion Strike in limited, but don’t count on opening too many of these. In constructed, he could be good, but you’d have to pair him with a bunch of instant/sorcery removal. Maybe a UR deck could abuse this interaction.

Rob
A strange Magpie, and a bit on the fragile side for not having any evasion. The use of charge counters reminds me of the possibility that Scars might bring us ways of charging up guys with more counters.

Mike
Another Shadowmage Infiltrator without his necessary invasion. Too cute to be good without giving him more help than occasionally drawing cards is worth. Think Dimir Cutpurse, Cephalid Constable, etc.

Justin
Really needs some sort of evasion. A bigger butt would help too.


Joe
WOW! This is likely lame in limited absent some good levelers, but there are crazy uses in constructed, I’m guessing. Ambassador Laquatus is all that comes to mind initially, but there’s sure to be some gimmicky decks to come with this card.

Zak
This is a pretty awesome card because it makes so many cards once called “unplayable” much more so. I love the Ravnica Guildmages or Filigree Sages with this, and the latter can combine with Gilded Lotus for infinite mana. A fun and potentially powerful card all around.

Rob
This can be crazy. Already this has been pointed to as a linchpin in a turn four infinite mana combo that will be legal in RoE Standard.

Mike
A card asking to be broken. Very high ceiling that could lead to broken things or time in the 50 cent bin.

Justin
Crazy Johnny potential here. I can see EDH decks abusing this for infinite combos. I definitely want a play-set.


Joe
Another decent way to combat most Eldrazi, assuming you’re going to be up on spawn tokens when your opponent goes for the big guy. Seems like a decent assumption. The danger is that this will sometimes go dead in your hand right when you need it most.

Zak
This is one of the most solid counters in the set, and even in standard I could see this getting played. Maybe some sort of UW midrange deck could use this along efficient beaters like Sejiri Merfolk and Calcite Snapper.

Rob
Seems good for splashing control to protect your army of guys. Also reminds me of Lullmage Mentor. Maybe WotC thought he would be the card to break in Zendikar and had Unified Will and Shared Discovery and other merfolk guys as support for him. Hmm…

Mike
Similar issues to Familiar Ruse in that your blue deck should never really be ahead on the table.

Justin
I like this in Momir Vig EDH decks. It seems like a counter made for x/U decks. Pretty solid in a set where creatures really matter.


Joe
Very strong when paired with the right levelers. I see him drafted high when you’ve opened a leveler for pick 1.

Zak
This guy will get picked much higher if you have a set of good but expensive levelers. However, you need a good reason to play him, because Scathe Zombies is just terrible. It would be interesting to try him out in a constructed deck, but I’m not sure how well this archetype will turn out in constructed.

Rob
I am kinda surprised he isn’t a leveler himself, but either way he’ll be fine in limited Level decks. As for Constructed, I’ll keep an eye on it, but Levelers seem to be a bit shy of the mark.

Mike
Reminiscent of Join the Ranks for limited, a card that’s value swings heavily depending on the rest of your deck – from all star to bench fodder.

Justin
Blue seems like the best color for Level Up centered decks. Yawn.


We’d love to hear your thoughts. Did we miss anything? You can also check out the rest of the set review and analysis. :) Colorless White Blue Black

Rise of the Eldrazi Set Review and Analysis: White

Power 9 Pro is excited to bring you another set review for Magic the Gathering’s expansion set Rise of the Eldrazi. With Pre-release and Release tournaments coming up over the next two weeks and a full spoiler available, the Power 9 Pro Team is putting in a collaborative effort to review and analyze the entire set. We’ll be looking at the cards from the vantage point of limited, affects on standard, extended or legacy-formats and whether Rise will have any new must-haves for Elder Dragon Highlander. This post is for the white portion of Rise of the Eldrazi.

James
Once upon a time I thought this could be used for trick removal but I can’t think of a creature in this set w/ a butt of 2 or less. lol. I guess one of the level up guys. Pretty narrow. Meh

Joe
A gray ogre that acts as a removal spell like shock most times. The +0/+3 part here is flexible, so you might even pick off a 1/1 and use the toughness boost to win a battle between two other creatures. This is a pretty good combat trick for limited.

Zak
I think that Wizards has been very careful as to what cards they give flash to after the menace that was faeries. As James rightfully points out, this will only remove a Glory Seeker, which really shouldn’t be a worry for you, and it will only do that once in a blue moon.

Rob
Combat trick on a creature is good. A nice surprise to set an attacking opponent back on his ear and put you back into the game.

Mike
This is an interesting card, you don’t see too many defensive pumps being used but based on what we’ve seen from creature power in this set, I think this guy will be extremely handy and not too quickly outclassed as a standard 2/2

Justin
Solid combat trick for Limited. a 2/2 for 3 that has flash is nice and economical. Solid.


Joe
gray ogre for white would be playable in most limited formats, but here we have a defender / wall theme to contend with. I don’t think this guy will be relevant until level 5, at which point he’s, roughly speaking, a 5/5 first strike for 10W. Not exactly stellar, even when you can pay in installments. Aggro strategies only.

Zak
This seems like a basic way of explaining the new level up mechanic, and this ends up being pretty underwhelming. I guess if you get other ways to put level counters on your guys this could be okay, but it still seems weak compared to the rest of the cards in the set.

Rob
Fetchable with Ranger of Eos, but not good enough to really matter. If the early levels could give it a bigger toughness or an ability, it might have been manageable.

Mike
This guy is sure to be a fine limited drop if you really need to fill out your curve. If you’re stuck on low drops he will certainly fill the role, but there’s very little chance he’ll be the 5/5 first striker he so longs to be.

Justin
I am not a fan of level up no matter what anyone says. Seems like poor resource management. D.


Joe
Wow… this should help you win the race you started with your bears deck… once you reach 8, that is.

Zak
I actually love this card. If you untap with it, your opponent’s Eldrazi become neutered and you can hopefully use the extra turns to bring your own behemoths to the table. Also seems solid in EDH with cards like Land Tax to help you get the land you need.

Rob
Invokers! Thank goodness they are common. Would have been a waste of any other slot. Limited fodder.

Mike
These 8: creatures do nothing for me, though a 2 power flyer for 3 is probably fine for limited.

Justin
Alpha strike in Limited? If I am going to pay 3 for a 2/1 creature it better have Flying (I’m looking at you Kelnore Bat).


James
Nice flier but indestructible won’t save this Biatch from Annhilate

Joe
Cute effect, and a nice scantily clad picture. Angels seem to want for tailors up in the heavenly host of Magic. Is this deathless angel or robe-less angel? Anyway, I suspect that merely being a 5/7 flying would make it pretty effective in limited, it’s also got the indestructible thing going, making it resilient as well.

Zak
As angels go, this is prettey meh. Remember, for the 2 mana you want to keep open after you cast her, you could cast Iona, Shield of Emeria. Could be fine in EDH I suppose.

Rob
This will be great standing up to those Eldrazi as they swing into me. Wait, they make me sac perms when they swing. #$!@#$! I may eat my words but those words are: No Constructed, Subpar Limited.

Mike
A fine limited bomb but outclassed my most other rares in any constructed format.

Justin
Indestructible is not as good as it once was with so many reusable sac effects running around in this set. Still a 5/7 is pretty good in Limited but I think it gets easily out-shined by big fat Eldrazi.


Joe
Excellent reprint here. Good for nuking Umbras, I’m guessing.

Zak
I disagree with Joe’s opinion, and I think it’s a crappy reprint. IOn a set where man is really not an issue, wouldn’t Disenchant have been better? Although I guess Naturalize already has that spot. This just seems so narrow, even for limited.

Rob
Reprinted cheap enchantment removal. If I’m mono white, it might be good to have in the sideboard if an enchantment like Eldrazi Conscription or Training Grounds becomes prevalent, but overall I’d rather have Nature’s Claim and the option of shooting artifacts.

Mike
Well, if you want to destroy an enchantment and you’re a white mage I can’t think of anything cheaper or more narrow.

Justin
Why not just give us Disenchant? Oh yeah, Naturalize. Pretty basic.


Joe
This is the kind of umbra which will make a piddly wall into the great wall of China.

Zak
Joe, we don’t need any more Great Walls in Magic. All joking aside, this card is fine for a Leveler that you’d like to keep around in time to get to its later stages, because it disrupts both destroy- and damage-based removal.

Rob
Not as good as the Hyena Umbra, but almost playable. Almost.

Mike
If you have a real hard-on for totem armor I’m sure the cheap cost will appease you but otherwise: WHY?

Justin
Not diggin this aura


Joe
I like this trick… save a dude, hopefully negating one of your opponent’s spot removal cards, and then sneak past their walls the following turn.

Zak
This reminds me of Brave the Elements except that it doens’t require as heavy a colour commitment. I think that it’s an excellent tool when paired with an Eldrazi to save it from a removal spell and allow it to attack unblocked the next turn.

Rob
Right at home in WW and great for splashing in any number of decks. A great compliment to Brave the Elements and Kabria Evangel in their respective decks. Negate some removal and give a retributive strike the next turn.

Mike
Not quite the brave the elements white is accustomed to, but in a multicolor deck it could protect a guy you absolutely want to protect. But if that’s all you want to do why not just rock some totem armor?

Justin
I like this in Limited. Goes great in a white build to push those last bits of damage through. Rebound makes it better.


James
Seems pretty cool to me. I like this for the G/W builds I’ve been gravitating toward since the release of Shards. The abilities are really the kind of stuff that aggro decks don’t like to deal with. Also, what happens to the counter count if you use the last ability (turn into a 6/6 until EOT)? Does it change back to whatever count total was prior to the change or does it effectively reset to 6? It’d be SICKO if i goes back to 6…

Joe
I wonder what can be done with guys like perimeter captain and ol’ giddy J here. To the extent that you can make good on his initial ability through defense, then you’ll have reusable removal and a quick built in win condition for the turn you finish mopping up the opposing army.

Zak
As I said when thiis guy first was spoiled, I’m not sold on a card that cost 3WW and isn’t named “Baneslayer Angel”. However, I think that this can be a great way to forcibly trigger Perimeter Captain or Wall of Frost, and that it gives white some nice reusable spot removal. Can also help Elspeth, Knight-Errant rack up loyalty if she’s played before Gideon.

Sean
I’m really uncertain about this guy. He seems powerful in certain situations, I just don’t know if he will see play in the highly competetive 5 mana white slot in constructed.

Dillon
Probably one of the more powerful spells in the set right now. His versatility on the battlefield is really what makes him great. A controlling Planeswalker and an aggressive Planeswalker. The beautiful mending of the two. He breaks stalemates forcing the opponent to attack into you, and he can just kill pesky creatures, then deals an enormous about of damage. The whole time he is a planeswalker therefore it is very cheap to do.

Rob
Tap all your guys for 3WW. Oh, I guess I can Assassinate a guy in White, that’s kinda nifty, but Path, Journey, O-ring are all better. And why the hell would I turn my planeswalker into Terminate/Path bait? Maybe it’ll be good against Removal-less Green decks.

Mike
This guy is interesting; he clearly has many applications, maybe the best of which being he can tap your opponent’s entire team, something normally only blue has access to. Furthermore, he can still go and do some damage on his own my becoming a 6/6. Seems to combo nicely with safe passage.

Justin
I like it when they introduce new Plansewalkers but this one made me scratch my head. His +2 ability is situational at best. -2 is pretty good. the 0 ability is what I find the most interesting. Seems like a cool way to pop off some damage post Wrath (or DOJ). You can’t block with him so he doesn’t fit in with the defensive flavor of white. Could be good against some sort of defender home brew. I see Gideon gathering dust in trade binders for quite some time.


Joe
I don’t see bears working unless your curve stops at about 3, and you’re flush with removal for the ubiquitous walls in this format. Glory seeker has a tough time as a reprint in RoE.

Zak
Another reprint I dislike. With another 2/2 for 1W that’s strictly better thank this (Knight of Cliffhaven) at common, I really wonder why WotC thought he deserved a slot.

Rob
White bear is a bear. Rawr.

Mike
Zzzz

Justin
What? Why do we need a white bear? At least my Pegasus has flying for 2cc. In Limited just a late pick.


James
Lame. I don’t like this. Somone prove me wrong on the lameness of this card. (disclaimer: this is partial spot removal for a fliers based deck in limited).

Joe
I love the big hulking guy in this artwork. It seems like a really cool take on removal and the concept of defender from a flavor standpoint. I love the fantasy-realm feel of this one. This is about as soft as removal can get.

Zak
This stops Eldrzai From pulling their Annhilator shenanignas in limited. Few cards in this set do that so cheaply, so this will be an important card to have ion your limited deck if you’re playing white.

Rob
Uh, ok. I guess it is something to neutralize a guy with in limited.

Mike
This is no pacifism, in fact it’s probably pretty annoying. If there’s any creature you don’t want attacking you I can’t imagine you want him blocking you instead.

Justin
Good way to stop an opposing Kozilek in limited. Pacifism light.


Joe
A steep cost for a fog effect, and it won’t stop annihilator effects from triggering. You’ll have to use this to put the final nail in the coffin in an aggro deck, and even there, it’s a stretch. More likely, you’ll want removal, not a stall tactic. This might help slower defensive decks more.

Zak
I really don’t know what to say other than this seems to be worse than Safe Passage. I don’t think that a one-sided Fog was worth 4 mana. Maybe I was just spoiled by Pollen Lullaby.

Rob
I’d say this is Jacerator/Turbofog fodder, but we have those three Gaea’s Blessing bouncing around. Perhaps it’ll find play with other stalling tactics.

Mike
Not bad, a little pricey for a fog effect but it’s got absolute blowout potential when you’re on defense obviously. The fact that this is common in Triple ROE makes white a real powerhouse in the redszone.

Justin
This is the worst Fog I have ever seen. Really I am not kidding. 2WW? Why? Bad Wizards of the Coast. Bad!


Joe
4WW gets you a 1/4 guardian seraph. Not exactly above par, but still somewhat decent as walls go. This will definitely slow the game down a bit. Probably playable.

Zak
I’m still a big fan of Guardian Seraph, and I think there are better things to do with your mana than play this guy. Binder fodder.

Rob
For a leveler this doesn’t seem too bad. I liked Guardian Seraph, so I think I’ll like this guy. He does something the first time you level him. He gets out of bolt range the first time too. I like him even better with a Training Grounds on the field.

Mike
This is probably fine in limited but it might not even make your 22 if you’re mono white. It’s just a lot of mana for an 0/3 if you want it to do anything but sit there and look pretty.

Justin
Not digging this guy as a rare in a big set. I know I will end up with 10 of these guys. Grrrr. Level up is…. boooooo.


James
Cheap and extremely efficient. The totem ability makes the crap-level of enchantments go down a little. A smidgen. I’ll probably use this in my limited decks, figuring the amount of damage I’ll get in (and past an opponent’s creatures who are too pussy footed to block) will justify the cost. Plus this is cheap.

Joe
The umbra cycle also seems flavorful to me. The bar is pretty high for auras to be worth exposing yourself to two-for-one (241) situations though. One white mana for a boost and first strike is on the borderline. Yay defense theme!

Zak
I love totem armor, but that’s mainly because I love Auras to begin with, and I’m happy any time they make them better. This should help a mid-range creature out in limited, especially a leveler whose stats are not yet maxed out. Also good for when you happen to attack with Valakut Fireboar.

Dillon
This will be the go-to Totem Armor for a GW Spiritdancer deck. It is effectively costed and grants an ability that is just amazing. I like this one a lot.

Rob
This is playable. Turn two before removal really gets online for most decks, I can turn my, let’s say Loam Lion, into a Knight with a Regenerate Shield. Not an all star, but definitely playable. Might be best enchantment in the set.

Mike
I think if anyone is going to play a totem armor in any format other than limited, this is going to be the one (except maybe ones that have flash).

Justin
I like this card. I would take it pretty high in Limited if I was in white. I also like it for my Uriel, the Miststalker EDH deck as a way to avoid Wrath effects.


Joe
5W gets you a 2/6 vigilance, eh? Well, it might be worth it, given how slow this format looks on its face, but endorsing this kind of card goes against all previous precedent.

Zak
The best levelers are thos who you look forward to fully upgrading. This guy is not one of those. Yay, I just spent 18 mana so I can…stall the ground some more???

Rob
So expensive to level. Might as well read as a 5W 2/6 Vigilance. Which is no good. Big on defense. If it had been fetchable with Ranger of Eos, it’d have been ok.

Mike
Once again the guys who cost colorless mana to level up seem pretty terrible.

Justin
OK, I can deal with this level up guy at common.


Joe
This guy is good because even on level 0, he’s playable enough. Eventually he boosts the team.

Zak
This guy is strictly better than Pillarfield Ox, and will see play in limited. Anthem effects have always been valuable, and if it lets your Eldrazi become just stronger that those of your opponent, you should be able to tip the game’s balance in your favour.

Rob
Programmable lord is kinda cool. Cost out of playability is really bad. Too much work to protect him.

Mike
This guy is pretty crazy for uncommon. He could definitely do some damage in a constructed format with a bunch of weenies. I think he’s probably the only uncommon limited bomb I’ve seen so far from this set.

Justin
I am running out of things to say about Level Up. I only want to level up my D&D characters.


James
It’s aight for an early drop for a set that is leaning toward the high costing. That may end up being a strategy in itself: can I race my opponent with huge, annihilating creatures? only one way to find out…tell your friend to try it out and report back. ;-)

Joe
I dug this cycle from the moment I saw it. I’ve seen lots of people bemoaning that leveling up is a sorcery. It seems to be acknowledged that sorcery speed does make the actual decisions involved more important and varied and therefore more skill testing than would be the case with instant speed leveling. At any rate, I just like the overlap of this ability with dungeons and dragons. It seems like the natural evolution of cards like the flip cards in Kamigawa, and Figure of Destiny. I like it as a concept.

This particular creature, however, is uninspiring. I’d hope to have better flying creatures than this bear. If I was short on bears I might run this goldilocks.

Zak
Alright, this is what aggro needs if it is to work in Rise limited. Not saying it will, but this is a step in the right direction. that fact that it gains flyin is extremely relevant, and means that this guy won’t spend an eternity just crashing into walls all game long.

Rob
I can’t get over this being 13W for a Serra Angel, and on top of it, I’m just going to bolt it in response to your fourth Level-up Activation, so it isn’t even as robust as Serra. Most levels seem to suffer these same drawbacks thanks to Sorcery speed.

Mike
This guy is a decent Leveler. He’s a kor which is always a good thing in this block, and you can make him a flyer the turn after he comes into play if you have nothing better to do with the mana, I’ll take it.

Justin
Level up makes me laugh. It involves a huge mana commitment. However, I think that with all of the big spells running around you might be able to pull off some leveling. This guy seems pretty bad regardless. Playing Magic, especially competitively, involves making tight plays. Level up seems to contradict this philosophy by making you waste precious resources.


Joe
This guy could be huge in this format of walls. He should never lack a target, and will help you race, if that’s your plan.

Zak
Umm…a Blinding Mage variant? I don’t know, but tapping down a weak creature seems bad in this format. Although, it could allow for some early beat by getting through some low-power walls.

Rob
Nothing impressive.

Mike
It’s been a while since we’ve had a tapper in a set, this guy has some pretty big limitations so I don’t like him much.

Justin
This is ok in Limited I suppose. Nothing special.


Joe
I’m very excited about this card for Legacy, where I think it will give enchantress decks new legs. This guy loves auratog and rancor, for example. In limited, it’s a bit more of a gamble, but the low cost will make it worthwhile assuming you have 4+ auras that are desirable on their own.

Zak
I’m loving this guy. He’s like Auramancers Guise on a stick, and helps to mitigate nay lost card advantage that comes with playing auras. Could be constructed playable, time will tell.

Dillon
I don’t know why but this Aura Wizard has me intrigued. I just imagine GW Spiritdancer being effective. Canopy Cover maybe seeing a little play, but we shall see what other Aura’s come out. It isn’t going to be super effective while Path to Exile is still legal, but I can see it in the fall as an aggro plan after Jund rotates out.

Rob
Pocket card for some Enchantress builds to be played with in Standard. Like most cards that rotate around auras, this will be fun to toy with in a more laidback format, but competitive would need to be a very special place for it matter there. Not before Jund leaves use at the very least. Likely never.

Mike
This guy has a lot of potential in limited, could even be decent in constructed if you can get an aura that gives him shroud quick.

Justin
I like this for Enchantress builds. I think it might find a Home in Zur EDH decks as a way to benefit of enchantments stuck in your hand. Not too likely though. All in all I think this little Kor can be pretty good with the totem armor running around.


Joe
Well, I can’t see anyone attacking into this poorly enough to lose men. It’s a skill tester that’s just too obvious… I can’t see running this unless I REALLY want to stall… i.e., I got the nuts Eldrazi pool.

Zak
It’s more a stall card than anything, but with all the walls in this set, I don’t think we really need this card. As well, does it really matter if you deal 1 damage to a lone Eldrazi? It’s like a mosquito bite: annoying, but nothing that can’t be ignored until it’s no longer relevant.

Rob
I’d suggest this for Control, but I’m not sure it is worth it. Stops the random x/1 from attacking. Causes problems for Ball Lightnings, but doesn’t do a thing for a lone x/2. Why bother with this?

Mike
This is going to have some applications as a ghost prison, ensnaring bridge kind of card. It’s not hard to play around but it will find it’s way into some sideboards over the next few years.

Justin
Can be good with multiple copies in play. Not sure about the rarity. I guess if you are hiding behind all of RoEs walls it could be relevant. Not a fan.


Joe
Hello EDH General! Wow. Not even mana abilities skirt this angel, so Rofellos has a new enemy, as do many other generals out there. This should also be a house in limited, where it’s an evasive and aggressively costed 3/4 who shuts off all opposing Eldrazi Spawn, leaving your own unscathed. Alas, as a mythic, you’ll seldom get to run her, but when you do, pray your white is deep enough to support a capital W in your deck’s color description.

Zak
I love this card. Awesome artr with an awesome effect at an awesome cost is awesome. Too bad it’s a mythic, because this could be a key player in some sort of prison-style deck. This card’s success in type 2 will largely depend on how many levelers get played. Although turning Putrid Leech into a Grizzly Bears is also okay.

Dillon
This angel is seriously powerful. Shutting down your opponents creatures to just triggered abilities is amazing. Mana abilities fall into activated abilites, therefore she is worth playing.

Rob
Levelers just stop. Knight of the Reliquary can’t find solutions. Lots of otherwise playable guys get turned off.

Mike
I feel like I could be doing a lot more at 2WW than this, though in limited I’m sure it’s a real bomb because it shuts off tons of guys in this format. It also shuts off eldrazi spawn which might be it’s greatest boon.

Justin
This is the Angel to get in RoE. Abilities are what make creatures shine and this lady says “All for me and none for you.” I can’t wait to see her as a General in EDH.


Joe
A bear will have enough of a hard time in this format. The life is okay, but I’d recommend playing this only in the most aggressively curved decks.

Zak
Venerable Monk is rolling over in his grave. I don’t think that life or the puny body will matter in this limited format, but it could prove to be nice in some turbo-fog decks which want the blocker and the life.

Rob
A tweaked Venerable Monk. So, WotC says that one toughness on a guy is worth him giving you 2 life. Interesting to know.

Mike
I dig this guy. He will find his way into kor decks and sideboards as well as be a good two drop in limited in a number of archtypes.

Justin
This is a solid common for Limited. 4 life can be a big deal in games that are finisher light and 2/1 for 2 is not that bad.


Joe
This can nullify opposing creatures with power 4 or less, and severely curtail bigger ones. It can enchant a wall to prompt a nice board stall. All around great card for limited, especially in a slow controlling deck.

Zak
Hmm… a white variant of Contaminated Bond I wonder how many creatures’ attacks this will actually be able to offset? It seems like a lot of this set’s removal is designed for weak creatures, which aren’t exactly the most daunting of foes in a limited environment.

Rob
I’m going to be amused to drop this on my opponent’s guy in limited. Otherwise, worthless.

Mike
I think this is a fine card. I’ve drafted mostly-walls decks and this is only going to get you to your bombs faster.


Joe
Good size for a 4-drop flier. Able to attack or block well. Solid, evasive dude.

Zak
Again strictly better than Pillarfield Ox, and could make an excellent midrange card in limited. Simply slap some totem arm,ors on this guy and he’ll wreck face in the sky.

Rob
Limited Fodder.

Mike
Sure, probably fine in limited. Nice ass, shorty.

Justin
I like Griffins. Probably will only see play in Limited.


James
Over costed…

Joe
Again, this is a sizeable boost, but you’re setting yourself up for a 241 against instant speed removal, and at best 1-for-1 against the aura’s benefits. Might be worth it on a first striker or something. It is splashable.

Zak
I think this card’s best targets are the midrange creatures which will get outclassed by Eldrazi in the later game. If you can get a creature to have 7 or 8 power, and have some choice permanents to sac to an anhiliator trigger, this can keep you in the game for the long haul.

Rob
If there weren’t eldrazi, this might be good in limited to turn an early guy into a finisher. But we have Common and Uncommon eldrazi and very little removal thus far, so this is not that great.

Mike
If this gave trample or flying I’d be very into it, but as is, for this cost? I don’t know. Celestial mantle wasn’t even a widely played card when drafted and that thing was grosse.

Justin
I like the Umbras I have seen so far for Limited and not much more. I might throw this into a teaching deck but odds are this is just 5cc hamster cage lining.


James
LMAO. Ad Nauseam until you get to one life?
I bet the most interesting part of this card will be the different suggestions people give for how you can use this to win…

Joe
Hatred comes to mind as a way to reach this goal quickly. Maybe channel? It’s kind of slow and awkward. Angels grace?

Zak
I’m pretty sure you need something like Worship or Fortune Thief to make this work. Either that, or be the luckiest player ever. Whichever you like.

Rob
Many people will crack this, try to win with it, and then throw it into their junk pile. If you could flash this out somehow, maybe it’s be ok.

Mike
Worship just got its win condition.

Justin
Somewhere, somehow, someone will make this work I just know it! I want to see it happen.


Joe
Wow. On turn 6 you can really go berserk with this. Turn 7 can set up the alpha strike, since you’ll get double the tokens on the rebound. Seems very strong, assuming your deck can maintain a board position. This might be just the sort of finisher Walls.dec wants to see in its 40.

Zak
This seems like it wants to be played with Conquerors Pledge, but the fact that this play leaves you wide open to a timely Maelstrom Pulse makes it unattractive. I think Pedge is just a better card than this, because why would you want to over-commit to the board when you have so many creatures out? Remember, if they wipe your board after the first cast, the rebound will have no effect.

Rob
Turn after Martial Coup for 5, this will break backs. Of course, Martial Coup for 5 already breaks backs. When else would this be better than a MC5? EDH. I’ll drop it in that box.

Mike
This could be really good in the right deck. Anything with rebound has serious power potential but you really have to design your deck around spitting out tokens and there just aren’t that many en masse token makers in this block.

Justin
Chancy, especially with bad things like DoJ and Pulse running around. Seems like it was meant to hold back Annihilator.


Joe
This is amazing removal, and will make Eldrazi players cry, especially if they were stoked about running theirs out on the back of 4 or more spawn tokens. This probably has legs in other formats, except for two issues: sorcery speed, and the prevalence of cards like ranger of eos and bloodbraid elf and the like, which you never want to see hit play even once, let along hand your opponent the second activation with a 3-life dessert.

Zak
This is just fantastic, and will take a skilled player to use correctly. It’s excellent against “all-in” styles of deck in both limited or constructed. You simply have to be careful what you target with this and you can put yourself in a much better position. Nothing like scaring away a crucial blocker for a few turns so that you can punch through for a bit more damage and tap some of your opponent’s lands when the recast it. Great card.

Rob
This is going to own some people. It’ll be the new Path when Path rotates, assuming Path doesn’t get reprinted in M11. Used WITH Path, people are going to cry when they have to chose whether to wait two turns to get one of their guys back, or get a land and shuffle up, trying their luck.

Mike
This is pretty random. Sorcery speed is kind of janky but it takes out anything and buys you some time. I don’t really think it’s very good though.

Justin
Great spot removal. I like that Eldrazi players will start crying after sac-ing spawn tokens for nothing. Perfect.


Joe
This is good removal, except it’s in a block where removal of very big creatures, preferable BEFORE they attack, is a must. Still, this can remove pesky walls, and so it’s going to be huge for the early rush approach.

Zak
This is fine, and it’s best limited application will be shooting down unpowered levelers to prevent them from reaching maturity. And I guess it kills walls, if that ever comes up.

Rob
Doesn’t seem special, or particularly playable.

Mike
It’s much more versatile out of the sideboard than deathmark is in an extended zoo mirror depending on how that deck evolves this year. Other than that we could’ve used this as a way to take out vampire nighthawk all year.

Justin
Not bad. Not as good as Oust but when is white blessed with tons of good spot removal?


Joe
Amazing. This will help you push damage through in the rush approach.

Zak
It’s either a card which lets you dig for an answer or a card that lets you punch through. I love cards like this that are in essence modal spells depending on what you want to use this for. in the late game, and end of turn Repel can wreck your opponent’s predictions for the next combat phase.

Rob
Tapping a pair of guys and cantripping. Seems good for White Control decks.

Mike
This is an excellent, excellent limited card if things stay attack-based in that formate. But tapping two guys in white and tripping is very good.

Justin
Good card. Cantrips can be hit or miss but this one does its job well. Good in Limited and Constructed as well.


Joe
I love this reprint. Alas, it’s less than stellar against the eldrazi, but with Wall of Omens now in standard, blocking is in. I think this will be played.

Zak
Fantastic card, as it can remove an eldrazi for little to no upfront payment. It only requires a blocker to cast, and with the plethora of walls in this set, there should be no troubles there. Could see some play in constructed, but Path to Exile is just so good.

Rob
The look on someone’s face when a flashed in Affa Guard Hound Smites their Emrakul swinging for lethal will be priceless.

Mike
I like all this removal white is getting in limited, but it’s not going to work anywhere else.

Justin
Hey a Stronghold throwback! I see this being useful in Limited but Path and Oust are way better.


Joe
soul warden has seen play before, and I see no reason it wouldn’t continue to do so with all the Spawn generators.

Zak
So strictly worse than Soul Warden (The trigger is not mandatory). This might signify Soul Warden getting the boot in Magic 2011, but it seems like it doesn’t improve the game that much in limited when the creature will take such huge chunks out of a players life total.

Rob
A Soul Warden without the gamestate maintenance issues. I might make a Casual deck running 4 of both this and its predecessor.

Mike
Another functional reprint but with a “may” effect this time? I mean it’s good but do we really need standard and extended decks that can run 8 soul wardens?


Joe
This is a huge wall on 5. Definitely the kid of thing you need if your plan is to stall until you can visit Eldrazi-ville.

Zak
One of the few walls that can both strike back at opposing attackers and block creatures with flying. Expect this to be a crucial card if you intend on surviving against some sort of skies deck in limied. Pretty meh in Constructed.

Rob
Fat. Just a flying blob of fat.


Joe
Man, they’re pushing this theme hard. I think that anyone who wants to stall to the mid-to-late game will not have problems doing so, and only the most shrewd aggro decks will be able to penetrate such defenses.

Zak
I’m not a big fan of this, as most walls are already big enough to weather most blows. I don’t think that playing a souped-up Valiant Guard is really all that worth it.

Rob
A lord for defenders of sorts. I like the idea, and he fits nicely in a curve with Perimeter Capitan and Wall of Denial to either side, sharing slots with Wall of Omens.

Mike
I guess if you’re playing a bunch of walls this guy is doing everything you want him to be doing, but what are you doing?!


James
This is pretty interesting. It costs 3cc for a 3/3 first strike which isn’t so horrible. I’m not so sure about the 8cc for a 4/4 double strike but it’s certainly not horrible by any means. The nice part is that it’s spread out over multiple turns (obviously) so you can concievably squeeze out the one extra cc each turn. One nice thing about a cheap level up is that late game it’s better than drawing a 2/2 that does nothing. I mean, at least with these you can channel all the extra mana to something useful. and a 4/4 double strike is pretty gnarly.

Joe
The picture made me hope he could learn horsemanship, but alas, no such luck.

For WWW, he’s a very cheap 3/3 first strike. On turn 1, if your W one-drop can survive a turn, he’s a very cheap 3/3 first strike attacking on turn 2. I think, therefore, he’s a shoe-in for consideration in white weenie decks. You’d hate to splash this guy as your sole white card though.

Zak
Okay so here’s a really nicely costed level whose first level would be acceptable on it’s own. As it is, this card has much more potential in the late game, and his an amazing pick in draft if you find yourself in heavy white. Also makes for an excellent Ranger of Eos target in standard.

Dillon
Student of Warfare will be bashing on turn two like Kithkin of old. White Weenie embraces her with open arms. Nothing wrong with this card.

Rob
Possibly the best card in the set, and funnily enough it has the worst mechanic in the set. Leveler doesn’t make me giddy as a general rule. It really needs to work hard to earn my respect, but this guy, with the low casting and leveling cost, Ranger of Eos Fetchability and landing just above par as a 3/3 first striker swinging on Turn 2, is pure laughing gas. I love it. If you kill it as I power it up, I don’t feel so bad, as it is on curve. If you don’t, it gets out of hand quickly as the cheap cost is easily spamable and I can leave mana up to protect him.

Mike
I think this is my favorite leveler. a lot of times in WW you want to be just swarming, but if this guy hits on one and becomes a 3/3 first striker on 2, I’ll take it over a white knight or a blademaster. This guy is excellent.

Justin
Volkan Baga did the art. “Nuff said.


Joe
This isn’t my kind of card, but it CAN net you 4 life and two cards, so it’s card advantage in white… I feel compelled to endorse this sorcery, despite it being decidedly “not my style.”

Zak
It’s an interesting card that’s potent in the early-mid game. With that said, it makes for a terrible topdeck when you’re getting beat down, so it’s probably a 23rd card at best. I don’t really see a constructed application for this.

Rob
This is a good playable card that gets a lot better in the right deck. Lifegain Defender decks with maybe Felidar Sovereign as the win-con can use this to keep edging towards the goal and keep answers in hand.

Mike
I think this is a fine card, could even make it’s way into some block decks. Gaining 4 life and drawing 2 cards for 3 mana is really very decent considering Divination has been a popular standard card over the last year.

Justin
Situational at best. It seems a bit overpriced when the cantrip is conditional. Mediocre.


Joe
Hmmm… I dunno. I would want a minimum of 6 levelers to run this.

Zak
In constructed, it could be okay, especially with some of the white levelers we’ve seen. Not certain about limited applications, but it’s a card that could wheel a bit. That is until some guy goes and drafts 12 leveler.dec and wrecks everyone.

Rob
This makes good levelers ridiculous. It’s a shame that means only two or three cards. I like the idea of this in the same deck as Student of Warfare.

Mike
They’re really pushing levelers here, but how many levelers are you realistically going to be sinking mana into?

Justin
Nothing will make me like Level Up.


Joe
Antelope! A 2/5 that tutors for an aura is pretty dang good, especially on common. This ties up the board and sticks around with the umbra you find. All around solid, even though it comes on board in the mid-game.

Zak
It’s a pseudo-Idyllic Tutor on a stick, which is okay. It gives you a body to play that aura on, and provides a nice body which can clock a fair few creatures in the format. I like all the support that enchantments are getting in this set.

Rob
Too expensive and does too little to be truly good. He is sadly a shadow of an awesome guy. If he was say a 1/3 for 2W and did this, he’d be balanced and useable. If he put the aura into play, he’d be marginally playable. As he is now, he’s just a janky filler common.

Mike
The best thing about this guy is Creature type: antelope.

Justin
Maybe in EDH? Seems too slow for constructed and downright bad in Limited.


Joe
This card got a fair amount of discussion online when it was spoiled. It’s a 3/3 for 3, which makes it very aggressive even if you never level it up. That said, a couple turns later, with 7WW invested, you’ve suddenly got a 6/6 lifelink, which is a very good installment plan, as leveling only costs you 1. When you reach level 12, you should be hard pressed to lose that game.

Zak
This card could potentially be played in some sort of mono-white control deck which uses Emeria, the Sky Ruin and other long-term plans to control the game while keeping you at a steady life total. Add to that the fact that it’s a 3/3 for 3, and you’ve got a very playable mythic.

Rob
This guy will be great in EDH and I love the flavor of him. With Time of Heroes he might be constructed playable alongside Student of Warfare, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. It’ll hurt pretty bad the first time he gets bolted or pathed with his 6th level on the stack.

Mike
Man, six level ups before this guy gets good? I mean, a 3/3 for 3cc is fine in limited but he’s a mythic rare. This set annoys me.


Joe
Again, 6 is a good number… if I had 6 auras I’d consider this, but then I’d have to ask myself whether I’d really like to be running 6 auras. At least you get gray ogre, but the ogre has never had it as bad as he seems to in ROE limited.

Zak
I think that this could be an excellent candidate for some sort of enchantment deck, and well help enchantress protect her namesake creature in legacy. All in all, a solid support card.

Rob
Zur EDH deck. Another attempt to make auras really good, and it makes me think, but even with the possibility of turning a guy into a 2-for-1 threat, the risk of getting 2-for-1′d yourself is usually enough of a deterrent in most competitive situations.

Mike
Auras are already pretty bad, nobody runs them. Is this guy going to make them better? Maybe in some formats, but not any competitive ones.

Justin
There is some potential here. I like the Idea of Rancor enchanting an x/1 creature.


Joe
Much has been written about this card. Many pros pegged it for the best card in the set at the time it was spoiled. It’s sure to see tons of play as a white wall of blossoms, and will be very annoying in walls.dec. Don’t trade these away if you plan to play standard. This will be another 3-5 dollar uncommon.

Zak
This card is going to have a role in standard liek no other wall in recent memory has. If effectively blocks Bloodbraid Elf and Hellspark Elemental while remaining impervious to Lightning Bolt. And to top it all off, it replaces itself setting up a better third turn. I’m calling it now: This card will be one of the WPN promo foils for Rise of the Eldrazi.

Dillon
What it does is create time for the control decks without spending a card essentially. It cycles but it also grants you a 0/4! It is incredibly staple as it is essentially not even taking up a slot in the deck. It will be the most important card of the set, but it also works so well Perimeter Captain that Aggro decks will need to get creative.

Rob
0/4 wall for 2 mana cantrips. Nothing to complain about. Seems good. Doesn’t seem broken. I’m just going to smile, collect them and move on.

Mike
I love efficient cards. If ever you wanted a wall in a constructed format, this guy would make the cut. I don’t think you will want a wall in that format, but this one is pertty solid if you do, especially once putrid leech rotates.

Justin
WOW a WALL! SWEET! But seriously this wall is not bad. Another Stronghold throwback only in a new color. Great for control style decks.


We’d love to hear your thoughts. Did we miss anything? You can also check out the rest of the set review and analysis. :) Colorless White Blue Black Red Green Multicolor and Lands

Let us know what you think in the comments below.
You can also check out the rest of the set review and analysis. :)
Colorless White Blue Black

What Ways are there to Win at Magic?

The goal of the game of Magic is obviously to win, right? But there are many ways to accomplish this goal. First and foremost is to make the opponent lose the game, because if you are the last one standing, you win. If there is only one player remaining, that player wins the game. This is important because most games end by causing your opponent to lose the game by reducing their life total to zero. The rules of the game tell us that unless an effect in play would prevent you from losing, if your life total is zero (or less) when state-based effects are checked, that is right before any player would receive priority, you are eliminated from the game.  Of course, this isn’t the only way a player can be eliminated from the game. The rules also tell us that if a player would be required to draw but cannot do so due to having zero cards in their library, they are eliminated. So what can we learn from this?

In both instances the game looks for the status of a vital resource in the game. When one of these resources, your life or your library, are exhausted you are out. Life total is your vitality and you must protect it from dipping under one. You can use and abuse it up till that point, and with the right application of effects, possibly beyond that point, but once the state in the rules is achieved, you lack the vitality to respond to the game. You can see it as being dead, being knocked unconscious, or whatever you like, but you are no longer a factor in the game. The case for being milled out seems a little more clear on this point. If you cannot draw any further spells to respond to the opponent’s actions and advance your own agenda, you are no longer a reasonable factor in the game, and the game removes you.

So, when you can’t respond anymore, and cannot advance your own agenda, you lose. This makes sense, but of course there are many ways of creating this situation for your opponent making it so that they’ve lost the game before the game actually kicks them out and declares you the winner. Let’s look at some strategies that do this as an overview of a type of ‘alternate’ win conditions that often crop up.

You can’t play the cards if you don’t get a turn. This may be the most obvious lockout, but if you are chaining together as many extra turns as you like, your opponent is dead in the water, unable to manipulate the gamestate beyond what few instant speed cards or abilities he has and what mana he has open. He simply waits for you to achieve one of the game ending states.

You can’t play the cards if you don’t have any mana. This is the goal of land disruption and destruction decks. If you need BRG to cast Sprouting Thrinax, and all you have is URG, thanks to Spreading Seas on your only source of B, you are locked out of that card. If you have none of the mana to cast the cards in your deck, either because they are the wrong colors thanks to your opponent or they keep getting sent to the graveyard or removed from game, you just sit with a full hand as your opponent kills you. You lose.

You can’t play the cards that leave your hand before you can play them. If you took your favorite deck and pulled out all the cards other than a handful of cheap instants, could you win a game by playing those cards one at a time? Most likely not, and that is why instant speed discard is a rare and powerful thing. With enough powerful discard, you can keep someone in topdeck mode. If you have instant speed discard, you can force them to play the card immediately after drawing it or lose it. Last I checked, unless you have great things on board already, you are not likely to win a game where nothing can ever come out of your hand.

You can’t play the cards if you can’t untap or are kept from casting. There has been and continues to be a plague that creeps through our beloved game on occasion. The ‘Lock’ type decks aim to ensure that you either never get to untap permanents, keeping you from having mana or other tap abilities to use, or they ensure that you are constantly under constraints that prevent you from casting. Of course, as we can see from above, if you can no longer interact with the gamestate, you’ve loss the game and are simply waiting for the game to declare your opponent the winner.

Due to the defacto state of win that the above deck archetypes can create, it is important to always look for ways to achieve one of these states when evaluating new cards and working to innovate a new strategy when deck building, Each strategy has a different weak point to exploit and a critical period in which to exploit it. Land destruction, for instance, must come online reliably on your turn three, because after that, too much is done buy three and four casting cost spells and too many lands are in play to stop most opponents plans. Discard should also come online as soon as possible, but is much more tolerant to creating a late game lock if there is instant speed discard in the format. In all of these cases, if your opponent can no longer effect the game, they’ve already loss and all you have to do is pluck away at their life or library until the game kicks them out.

Now, one quick note. There is another way of winning the game, and that’s with a rules modifying clause that creates a new winning condition other than being the last man standing. Mayael’s Aria, Helix Pinnacle, and Rise of the Eldrazi’s Near Death Experience are all ways of creating a change to the rules to declare yourself a winner. However, there is no inherent removal of your opponent in this strategy, so you opponent can actively attempt to keep you from succeeding up until the final moment. This separates these strategies from those above.

So, next time you are looking for a strategy outside of just attacking with many big guys, you can consider some of these winning game states and see if you can lock your opponent out of the game. Also, if you sit down across from one of these strategies, understand that they are trying to stop you from interacting with the game, and while annoying that is one of the most powerful ways to win as it is implied right in the rules: make your opponent irrelevant.

EDH deck building: The Coalition vs. Phyrexia

Getting started in EDH can be a daunting task for newer players.  Fortunately for those newer players, Wizards of the Coast releases special products, such as the Duel Decks series that showcase many older cards.  The newest line in the Duel Decks series is Phyrexia vs. The Coalition.  This product is a great jumping off point for newer players who want to try their hand at EDH packed with all sorts of EDH goodies.

Let’s take a look at what the mechanized armies of Phyrexia give us.  One of the coolest reprints in a long time, Phyrexian Negator has prompted some serious debate about Wizard’s Reserved List.  The Negator is an amazing option for an aggro deck but EDH is more about longevity and combos than about quick beatdown.  Remember life totals in EDH are 40 not 20.  Still, this guy can be decent for you if you are lean on options.  Sacrifice outlets allow for some interesting tricks and Phyrexian Plaguelord fits the bill nicely.  For card draw, Phyrexian Arena is really good, abusing that big life total.  Another nice addition is Phyrexian Processor.  Pumping out a threat every turn for a minimal resource commitment is awesome.

One of my favorite reprints is Voltaic Key.  This card was amazing back in the days of Urza’s Saga and offers great potential with good artifacts floating around (like the Processor above).  Worn Powerstone and of course Phyrexian Colossus also play nice with the Key.  Another card I was excited to get was Lightning Greaves.  I cannot think of a card that is more useful in General-centric strategies than the Greaves.  Whispersilk Cloak, Hornet CannonPhyrexian Vault, and Phyrexian Totem are all playable cards that can help a beginner with EDH.  Living Death and Slay are pretty good as well.

Taking a look at the good guys we find that the Coalition has a bunch to offer.  One, two, three, four…four Generals come in this deck!  Darigaaz, the IgniterGerrard Capashen, Rith, the Awakener, and Treva, the Renewer.  That’s a lot of Legendary goodness.

The Coalition give us some great utility creatures as well.  Thornscape Battlemage, Sunscape Battlemage, and Thunderscape Battlemage all offer some usefull abilities.  Yavimaya Elder  = card advantage (cool new art too).  Armadillo Cloak, Coalition Relic, and Power Armor are decent goodies as well.  The Coalition also gives us a great finisher in Urzas Rage.  This big spell laughs in the face of counter-magic and the foil treatment it got is superb.

If you are new to EDH, or if you know someone who wants to get into it, then the Phyrexia vs. The Coalition Duel Deck is a great place to pick up some awesome older cards.  Use this as a springboard to take the plunge into the EDH waters.

Worldwake EDH: Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs

A while back I took a look at new EDH Generals from Worldwake.  I decided to make a deck-list featuring Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs.  I wanted to go with a build that was full of flavor, using the imagery of the powerful ogre warlord.  In most cases of card selection I used flavor as the deciding factor.

The premise of this deck is that the mighty Kazuul is marshaling a vast horde of evil humanoids to raid and plunder.  I stuck with some good ol’ fashioned D&D concepts; ogres bullying smaller orcs and goblins to do their bidding, which in this case means WAR!  Last time I mentioned Deathforge Shaman, Initiate of Blood, Heartless Hidetsugu and Rustmouth Ogre as possible options so I am going to put them in.  I took another look at Gatherer to see how many different ogres were in red.
Ogres (7):

Now that our ogre taskmasters are in place we need some orc and goblin minions to fill out the army.
Goblins (24):


Orcs (5):

All of these little guys form the backbone of our army.

No ogre warlord worth his salt would go into battle only relying on puny orcs and goblins, so Kazuul will have some hired giant muscle.
Giants (4):

Our horde is in place, so we need some gear to make our General and friends more formidable.
Equipment (8):

Now our army has plenty of fodder and gear so all we need is a way to promote our General’s ability.  Our plan is limit our opponents mana base by eliminating key lands and mana producing artifacts which are very common in EDH.
Land Hate(10):


Artifact Hate (3):

We have thirty eight slots for our own land and mana producing artifacts.

The deck is complete. It looks like Kazuul’s enemies are in for a rough time as his horde pillages the countryside. Can anyone stop the Tyrant of the Cliffs? Now this deck is not perfect but it has answers to problem artifacts and lands and can generate creatures early.  I think this is a good starting point for a really fun and flavorful EDH deck. Until next time.